Who were the children of Eva Meerhoff, born Krotoa of the Goringhaicona (c. 1643-1674)?

Who were the children of Eva Meerhoff?

by Mansell Upham

This article was originally featured in Capensis – Journal of the Genealogical Society of South Africa (Western Cape Branch), no. 4 of 1998, pp. 6-14.

Krotoa (c. 1643-1674) – Cape aboriginal woman of the Goringhaicona clan born on Robben Island.  Reared by the first Dutch commander Jan van Riebeeck and utilised by the Dutch as interpreter, envoy, trader, guide, cultural broker, mediator, agent and informant.  The Cape of Good Hope’s first indigene to be baptised (3 May 1662 as “Eva”) and to marry (2 June 1664) according to Christian rites.  Wife of the VOC’s surgeon and superintendent of Robben Island, the Copenhagen-born Pieter Meerhoff (killed 1667/8 at Antongil Bay, Madagascar while on a trading expedition).  As widow, fell into disgrace with the Dutch authorities who disapproved of her drinking, sexual and native habits.  Detained and banished without trial to Robben Island.  Died there (29 July 1674) aged 31 years.  Her remains were later removed from the demolished church at the Castle and buried in the foundations of the Dutch Reformed Groote Kerk in Adderley Street, Cape Town.  Her known progeny forms a substantial proportion of the people classified “white” under the apartheid regime.

Although there has been much speculative and questionable writing recently on Eva Meerhoff, little primary research has been undertaken to correct many of the existing inaccuracies in print.  The baptisms of 3 of the 8 children have been found in the Cape’s first baptismal register which started 23 August 1665.  Records of baptisms prior to 1652 onwards have not necessarily all been preserved.[1]

(1) Jacobus born Cape of Good Hope c. 1660; died single (without issue) at sea en route from Mauritius 1687

(2) Pieternella born Cape of Good Hope ante 16 November 1662; died at the Cape of Good Hope; married on Mauritius Daniel Zaaijman from Vlissingen (Flushing) in Zeeland, Netherlands – descendants

(3) Child who died in infancy (name unknown never baptised) born c. 1664

(4) Salomon born Robben Island; baptised Cape of Good Hope 12 September 1666; died on Mauritius unmarried and without issue

(5) Child born Robben Island who died in infancy (name unknown, never baptised) born c. 1668

(6) Jeronimus born Robben Island; baptised Cape of Good Hope 23 November 1670;

(7) Anthonij born Robben Island 1672; baptised Cape of Good Hope 6 August 1673;  still alive at the Cape of Good Hope in 1712 (recorded alone as single adult male sans any family); died 1713 (smallpox epidemic) unmarried without known issue.

(8) Child who died in infancy (name unknown, never baptised) born c. 1674

[1] See the discussion in M.G. Upham, ‘Maaij Ansela and the black sheep of the family’, Capensis  4/97, pp. 10-11.

Dominicus d’Moor – originally Chinese Muslim: the Cape of Good Hope’s 1st recorded Mardijcker

Dominicus d’Moor – originally Muslim Chinese: the Cape’s 1st recorded Mardijcker

by Mansell Upham

Unknown depiction of a Chinese Muslim (shorn and minus the otherwise obligatory and conventional pigtail)

Dominicus d’Moor is the 2nd of three Chinese male convicts to be banished to the Cape of Good Hope during the period (1652-1662) – t’Sincko being the 1st and Waniko being the 3rd.[1]  A former VOC soldier in Batavia, he is sentenced to be shot but has his sentence commuted and is exiled to Robben Island to do hard labour for life.  He is different from the other two Chinese men:  he is a shaven Chinese and Muslim.  He escapes, however and stows away on one of the ships in the Return Fleet.  Intercepted during the voyage, he is offloaded on St Helena in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean together with some other VOC men and left to safe-guard equipment to be picked up by the next fleet bound for the East.  While on St Helena, a visiting pirate vessel affords him an opportunity to accompany some of the Dutch crew.  He elects, however, to stay and for his loyalty he is pardoned rejoining the Cape garrison.  He opts for freedom becoming a free-burgher, converts to Christianity, becoming the 1st recorded Chinese person to be baptised in South Africa and the 1st known Cape free-burgher to be designated mardijcker[2].  He marries the freed slave Maria van Bengale aka Maria Antonijsz: (after her patron or slave owner) and Maria Domingo (after her husband), once belonging to the free-blacks Anthonij Jansz: de Later van Bengale and Groote Catrijn van Paliacatta[3] and later to the German Hans Rutgert Trost – her concubine – who liberates her and his two sons.  Her sons by Trost are brutally burned alive during an attack by runaway slaves on their dwelling.  Her daughters, all liberated in dribs and drabs, capitalize on their baby-producing capacity to negotiate their lives and those of their children to assimilate into free colonial society, some more successful than others.  Domingo and his wife in married life dominate the fishing scene, procure a number of slaves and serve as popular witnesses at the baptisms to many children of the formerly enslaved Asian fishing community. They even manage a return voyage to Batavia but elect to return to the Cape resuming their comfortable colonial lives as a sort of ‘black’ elite amongst the subaltern or under-classes.

Den Chinees Dominicus d’Moor (from Bengal)

A 2nd Chinese convict, Domingo van Bengale[4], arrives at the Cape of Good Hope (1 April 1658) on board the Princess Royal.   

The ship is part of the return fleet (together with the ships Ulysses, ‘t Hoff van Zeelandt and N. Enckhuijsen) under the command of Cornelis van Quaelbergen (later commander at the Cape).[5]  

An ex-VOC soldier condemned to death (sentenced to be shot) in Batavia (28 August 1657), he is banished to the Cape after having his sentence commuted.  He is sent (17 July 1658) to Robben Island.  He appears in the muster roll (5 March 1659) with fellow convicts Groote Catrijn – his future wife’s owner (patronesse) – and Susanna Een Oor “blacks banished for life from Batavia”. ‘t Sincko, who had arrived sailing on the Haes (17 July 1654), is no longer recorded as one of the convicts.  This time the aboriginal personage Harrij Hottentoo, chief of the Goringhaicona and Krotoa’s maternal uncle, is also mentioned as a convict for life, but on Robben Island.[6] 

Once at the Cape, Domingo soon manages to stow away on one of the Return fleets, remaining with the skipper Campen and is written off the Company books.[7]   Once apprehended, he is left on St. Helena with others to guard VOC equipment returning later to the Cape. Domingo is one of the ‘Dutchmen’ who refuses to accompany the pirate Hubert Hugo (later VOC commander at Mauritius!) when he and his pirate ship call at St. Helena and take away some of the Dutchmen left on the island to protect Company equipment and remaining there until VOC back-up arrives?[8] 

St Helena

He is pardoned for his loyalty and re-instated as a Company soldier and listed (1672) in the muster under Soldaten in’t hoornwerck as Dominicus d’Moor.[9]

Although Batavia often gives Van Riebeeck instructions to detain convicts on Robben Island, this seldom happens during the initial stages of Dutch colonial occupation – especially in the case of female slaves.  These women can be better utilized on the mainland.  Groote Catrijn has the fortune to become part of the commander’s household as a washerwoman while Susanna Een Oor is lumped together with the other Company slaves and put to labour in the Company Gardens.  Susanna does not share a similar fate. 

Chinese are sent to the Cape as convicts and exiles in more numbers only after 1680.  Many are to return to Batavia and only one other Chinese man is on record becoming a free-burgher.  He is the pardoned convict Lim Inko (dies 1712), baptized Abraham by the proseletysing minister Petrus Kalden and adopting the curious surname of De Veij (often corrupted as De Vijf) meaning ‘of Africa’.  This is the sound of the Chinese ideograph for Africa pronounced ’fay’.[10]  Kalden’s claim that Abraham is the 1st Chinese person he baptizes at the Cape is questionable in the light of the earlier Domingo van Bengale – who despite his toponym is found recorded as den Chinees – who is baptized at the Cape before Abraham de VeijDomingo’s situation is extraordinary, however:  he is banished as a convict to the Cape at a time when employed by the VOC as a soldier and he is Muslim – what is termed a shaven (geschoren) Chinese. 

He is thus the Cape’s 1st recorded mardijcker and Muslim Chinese.

Maria from Bengal … een slave van Antonij van Bengale & Domingo’s future wife

Also known as Maria van de Cust Malabar she is the slave belonging to Anthonij Jansz de Later van Bengale and his wife, Groote Catharina van Puliacatta. On 27 April 1676 she is sold by Jan Jacobsz: de Slooper, skipper of the Sparendam, to Anthonij Jansz van Bengale for Rds 35.  The same skipper also sells the slaves Salamme, Jacob Casta Malabar and Diana van Cochin (aged 19 years) to other Cape free-burghers.  They had arrived at the Cape on 12 March 1676 on board the ship that had proceeded from Batavia to Galle, Ceylon to collect rice and the new governor (Joan Bax van Herentals who was replacing the outgoing governor IJsbrand Goske), both bound for the Cape. Bax, however, had arrived earlier on the Voorhout instead.

Maria becomes Trost’s concubine

Groote Catrijn’s former slave Maria van Bengale – later known as Maria Anthonisz:[11] – is sold (1681) to Hans Rutgert TrostIn the records his last two names are often contracted as Rutgentroost(er) or Rutgertroost.  From Elberfeld[12], he is a soldier at the Cape (1670).  He is listed as Hans Rutgert Troost in the Cape’s muster rolls of officers and garrison at the Cape (1672) as one of the shepherds in the farmer’s cottage (schapewachters [i]n d’boere woningh).  He later becomes a burgher at Stellenbosch (1677).  He purchases (24 August 1684) an unnamed male slave, possibly Pampus van Malabar, from Tobias Marquart.  The slave Pieter van Madagascar (aged 17), is sold (30 November 1686) by Roedolf Diodati, bookkeeper of the Jambi, to Trost for Rds 50.  Trost is promised (1687) the farm Weltevreden at Bottelary in the Stellenbosch District.

Maria Antonisz gives birth (c. 1682) to a heelslag daughter named Johanna (Jannetje) van de Caep.  She is later known as Jannetje Hansen Rutgertroost and baptized as an adult (15 June 1704).  At that time she is the slave belonging to the surgeon Willem ten Damme (from Oldenzeel) – owner of the farm De Brakke Fontein behind the Blaauw Berg.  Ten Damme’s former slave appears later in the baptismal register as Johanna van de Caap when she witnesses, with Moses van Macasser, the baptism (2 October 1707) of Antonij the slave child of Willem ten Damme and as Johannna Antonisz when she witnesses with Floris van Batavia the baptism (25 October 1711) of the slave child of Willem ten Damme named Leonora.  She has two children by the official Dirk Cornelisz: Vermeulen who is stationed at the Cape for five years.  

De Brakke Fontein [Brakfontein] agter de Blaauw Berg

Vermuelen arrives (1704) on the Zeehaan.  During this time he makes arrangements for three months of his annual salary to be paid out to his wife Antjen Pieters: as reflected in the soldijboek of the Zeehaan (January 1709-30 August 1709).  On three occasions f 100 are paid out to Maritjen Dirck. Is this his daughter?  He departs (21 April 1709) for Patria from the Cape on the Limburg.  He arrives in the Netherlands (10 August 1709) and is discharged from the VOC (30 August 1709).[13]  What happens to him thereafter is not yet known.  During his sojourn at the Cape he fathers two illegitimate children by Jannetje Rutgertroost.[14]  Vermeulen and Jannetje Rutgertroost witness the baptism (13 May 1708) of Margrietje, the daughter of Heinrich Koster (from Minden) and the Cape-born Dirkje Everts.

Maria Antonisz: gives birth (1683) to another daughter the mestizza named Anna Maria.  She later goes by the name Anna Maria Dominicus. The name Dominicus is a variation of the name Domingo the name of her biological or adopted father, Domingo van Bengale.  She is baptized (13 December 1705) as a privately owned slave together with her daughter Elsje Catharina

She and her daughter are manumitted (31 May 1706) and she marries (31 July 1707) her 1st husband Claus Beu(st) / Beusz / Buis (from Aalst in Dithmarschen)[15].  Being possibly half-Chinese and half-Indian, she is neither heelslag nor halfslag but is accepted as the latter – a crucial concession as the right to marry is unavailable to ex-slave heelslag women wanting to marry European (or white) men. 

Claus Buis had arranged (31 May 1706) for the manumission of his concubine and nine-year-old daughter and paid less than the usual going amount for Company slaves.  His concubine, however, is not required to pay back any of the money tendered for her release from enslavement.  Instead, she has to stand by Buis for the rest of her life helping to earn their keep and to assist him. 

Anna Maria de Mainekes [Dominicus], together with the Cape-born Caspar Jansz:, son of the freed slaves, Jan Luij / Leeuw van Ceylon and Dina van Quilon, witnesses (3 February 1709) the baptism of Jacoba Coetzee, the daughter of Elizabeth Louis: by Jacobus Coetzee – although her mother at that time is still wife to the estranged Hans Jürgens: Glam / Glim (from Salzburg).  Last-mentioned is the daughter of the freed slaves, Louis van Bengale and the Cape-born heelslag Lijsbeth Sanders:Anna Maria Dominicus is listed in the census (1697) at Stellenbosch with the side-lined Hans Hurrian [Hans Jürgens Glam / Glim (from Salzburg)] as Anna Marij halfslag

Widow Beu marries at the Cape (26 December 1712) her second husband Christoffel Ameen (from Rostock).  She dies during the smallpox epidemic (1713).  Her husband marries at the Cape (31 December 1713) his 2nd wife Jacoba Campher, the widow of Joost de Klerk and the daughter of Laurens Campher (from Mohrow in Pommerania) and Cape-born Eurafrican Ansela van de Caep[16]

Maria is manumitted

Hans Rutgert Trost frees his slaveMaria (by 5 March 1684, if not earlier). 

Maria Antonijsz: gives birth (c. 1685) to another daughter known as Cornelia Lammers: van de Caeb.  She is baptized as an adult at the Cape on 2 October 1707 (een bejaarde vrijmeid).[17]  Likely a heelslag, her biological father has not yet been identified with any certainty.  She has numerous illegitimate children by different fathers.[18]

Maria and Domingo convert to Christianity

Maria Antonijsz: is baptized as an adult (30 June 1686) together with her future husband den Chinees Domingo van Bengale.  He is none other than the Domingo, former co-convict with Groote Catrijnvan Pulicat and Susanna Een Oor van Bengale.  After being pardoned and rejoining the VOC’s militia at the Cape, he finally abandons his Muslim faith, converts to Christianity and becomes a free-burgher. 

Trost has two sons (twins?) by his former slave, Maria Antonijsz:.  Are Maria and Trost briefly reconciled as a couple or are these sons born at the time that she belongs to Trost?  His sons are baptized Karel and Hendrik respectively (2 November 1687).  The witnesses are Pieter Gerritse Boshouwer (from Scherpenzeel) and his sister-in-law Cornelia Cornelisse, the daughter of the former private slave Catharina van Malabar and Cornelis Claesz: (from Utrecht) aka Kees de Boer.  Trost bequeaths (13 January 1688) monies to his two illegitimate sons “by his former slave woman now manumitted”.

Maria and Domingo finally marry

Maria and Domingo appear as a couple, although not legally married, in the census (1688) owning one flintlock (snaphaen) and one rapier (degen). They eventually marry (18 May 1691) at the Cape Church.  In the marriage entry they are referred to as free citizens (vrijborger alhier and vrijborgeresse alhier respectively). 

Their legal marriage is delayed due to Domingo’s criminal conviction (1690) and the tragic death of Maria’s two sons by TrostMaria is listed in the census (1690) in the Cape District at the time that Domingo is serving his 1-year sentence in chains in the public works.  She is listed immediately after the free-burgher Andries Beijer (from Saxony). 

Domingo and Francis Perera (from Macau)[19] are convicted (8 June 1690) for illegally appropriating the inheritance of Emanuel (Manuel) Perera[20].  They have to pay back what they had stolen and to serve a year in chains. 

Maria’s twin sons are murdered

In 1690 Maria’s two sons by Trost are brutally murdered.  Their father’s place is attacked by slaves on the run who set their father’s homestead alight.  The children are burned alive.  

News arrives at the Castle (11 July 1690) that four runaway slaves had attacked the house of the free-burgher Bastiaan Berghman and had killed him.  Another free-burgher, present in the house at the time, had managed to escape.  Also killed is the child of the slave woman who had been sitting with them by the fire. 

Armed and dangerous, these runaway slaves threaten to kill everyone in sight.  A price is put on their heads and Commander Simon van der Stel declares a state of emergency. 

These slaves strike again (22 August), attacking a cattle farm and stealing three of the animals.  Intercepted at one point, one of these slaves is shot and another wounded but he and the other two manage to escape. 

The body of the slave who had been killed is brought to the Castle and hanged upside down as a warning to all. 

Two days later the wounded runaway slave is caught and confesses to planning to setting fire to the grain fields and intending to capture the wives of the newly-arrived French-speaking Huguenot refugees and take them to Madagascar as slaves. He expires in prison (7 September). 

The other two slaves still on the run, however, continued their reign of terror.  They set fire (29 August) to Trost’s house who loses his two children in the fire before he can run through the flames.  No mention is made of the children’s mother. 

Their father is attacked outside his home, where he receives an assegai wound in the head and is struck with the butt of a gun by one of the slaves.  He nevertheless manages to fire his own gun which is loaded with soft-nosed expanding bullets, and wounds one of the slaves in the chest. 

The slave dies three days later. 

The last of the runaway slaves who is still at large is apprehended by two convicts on the slopes of Table Mountain.  He is Francis van Batavia, baptized and previously belonging to the Stellenbosch free-burgher Hendrik Elberts.  He is sentenced (27 August) to be broken on the wheel.[21]

Thereafter, Trost marries (3 February 1692) the very respectable kindergarten teacher and midwife Aeghje Claesze Keijsers (from Rotterdam), the widow of Nicolaes Breda

Hartenberg – originally Weltevreden [André Pretorius Collection, University of Stellenbosch]

Trost is formally granted (29 February 1691) the farm Weltevreden at the Bottelary in the Stellenbosch district.  The farm (originally promised in 1687) is only transferred and registered (16 December 1700) in the name of the wagonmaker, Andries Beyer (from Saxony), although it had been in Beyer’s possession for some time already. Beyer is married to thefreed Company Eurafrican Catharina Wagenmakers: van de Caep and former bordello mistress who is sister to the wealthy Cape-born Eurafrican Marritie Pieters:, the widow of Jan Andriesz: (from Amsterdam) – both now considered more likely to be daughters of the private slave woman Maaij Isabella van Angola.[22]

The slave Cupido van Madagascar (aged 14), is sold (2 March 1696) by Pieter Robberts: (originally obtained from Richard Glover) to Trost for Rds 74 and the slave Pampus van Malabar, aged 30, is sold (23 March 1699) by Trost to Pieter Barilje for Rds 100.  The slave Boelang van Padang, aged 24, is sold (27 March 1699) by Lammert Adriaensz: (from Weij in Gelderland) to Trost for Rds 70.  His stepdaughter, Engeltie Breda, marries (8 December 1697) the influential and wealthy Michiel Leij (from Basle) who also fathers a child by the matres of the Company slave lodge, Armosijn Claes: van de Caep

Trost appears (28 March 1701) on a list of persons putting in a claim for monies and pay owing from Holland.[23]   A garden in Table Valley changes hands (1700) in terms of legal ownership from Trost to Andreas Beyer (from Saxony).  The same garden in Table Valley is transferred back (1701) to Trost from the deceased estate of Beyer.  Trost draws up a 2nd will (1702) and dies in 1716.

Domingo, no longer in chains, and Maria appear again as couple in the census (1692), still listed with the same weapons (as in 1688).  Domingo is granted (17[24] March 1692) an erf in Table Valley which he occupies for two years. The erf in Oliphant Street is later sold to the fellow free-fisherman, Lambert Simonsz: Stam.[25] 

Domingo borrows (20 February 1693) f 300 from the Church funds at an interest of 6%.  This money is repaid (25 August 1694).  Domingo enters into an employment contract (22 April 1693) with Jan van Braganza

Domingo and his wife relocate (1694) to Batavia.  They return to the Cape (1697) on the Cattendijk and are referred to as the mardijker Domingo van Bengale with his wife.[26]

Domingo den Chinees later purchases (5 May 1698) the slave Pieter van Malabar from Hans Hendrik Smit for Rds 60.[27]  The Chinees Domingo (signing his name Domingo van Bengale) biys (10 May 1698) from Hans Hendrik Smit the slaves Cupido van Negapatnam (aged 16) for Rds 70 and Pietervan Malabar (aged 16), for Rds 70. 

Maria (together with the free-black Joost Ventura) witness (7 June 1699) the baptism of the slave infant Christiaan(who later in life goes by the name of Christiaan Victor[28]).  The mother is recorded as being Candares van Surat, the slave belonging to Gerrit Victor.  The child had been fathered by Jacobus Victor (from Negombo on Ceylon), the son of Gerrit Victor.  

Domingo and his wife appear (1700) in the census[29] with Domingo witnessing (26 September 1700), together with Anna Louis:, the baptism of Johannes, the son of Elisabeth (Lijsbeth) Louis: and Hans Jürgens: Glam / Glim (from Salzburg). 

Maria Domingo (with the free-black and former school teacher of the Company’s slave children, Claas Cornelisz:), in turn, witnesses (10 June 1701) the baptism of the slave infant Maria who was the daughter of the slave woman Tambara van Madagascar.[30] 

Maria Domingo again witnesses (25 September 1701), with Emanuel van Macassar, the baptism of the slave child, Johannes, the son of the slaves Scipio van Mombasa[31] and Annika van de Cust.  

Domingo and Maria witness jointly (5 November 1702) the baptism of the infant Johannes, son of Storm and Dina, both slaves belonging to Jonker Frans van der Stel

Domingo and Maria witness (26 October 1704) the baptism of her free born granddaughter Cecilia, daughter of David van Macasser and Cornelia van de Caab

Domingo, with Sara van Macassar, witnesses (16 November 1704) the baptism of the slave infant Juliana, daughter of the slaves belonging to the official Samuel Elzevier: Jan van Mannaar and Marta van Jamby

In 1705 they again appear in the census[32] with Maria witnessing (30 August 1705) the baptism of the slave infant Rachel, daughter of the slave woman Helena van Java who belong to the free-burgher Lambert Adriaanz: (from Weij). 

Domingo witnesses (31 January 1706) the baptism of Christiaan, son of Gerrit van Malabar and Eva van Madagascar

Domingo, as one of the local, but contained, fishing community, signs a petition (13 and 16 March 1706) together with the colony’s other fishermen expressing solidarity with the Van der Stel administration. 

Domingo witnesses (16 May 1706) the baptism of Aaltie, the daughter of Evert Pietersz: (from Pumerend) and Susanna Catharina van Ceylon, the former slave woman freed by Simon van der StelDomingo again witnesses (2 August 1707), with Bastiana van Bengale, the baptism of the slave infant Flora, daughter of Anna van Malabar who belong to the free-burgher Christoffel Groenewald

Domingo and Maria witness (2 October 1707) the baptism of her granddaughter Jannetie, daughter of Cornelia van [de] Caab.  

Maria witnesses (11 January 1708), with Rebecca van de Caap,  the baptisms of the three slave infants Jannis, Caatie and Anna Magdalena, all children of the slave woman Hester van Surat belonging to Gerrit Victor.[33]  Maria again witnesses (12 August 1708), with the Cape-born heelslag free-burgher, Joost Ventura, the baptism of the infant Kobus, a slave boy belonging to Willem ten DammeMaria yet again witnesses (6 January 1709), with Fredrik Jansz:, the baptism of the slave infant belonging to the free-burgher, Steeven Vermeij, namedLeonora, the daughter of Nicolaas Jansz: and Flora van Macassar.  

Domingo witnesses (12 July 1711), with Elizabeth Marcus:, the baptism of his step-grandson Nicolaas, son of Dominicus Jansz: (from Amsterdam) and Cornelia van de Caap.  The couple appears again in the census (1712).[34]  The adjacent couple is none other than Agnieta Colijn, her husband with two sons. 

Domingo and Maria draw up a joint will (1712).  In this will he signs his name in Roman letters and not Chinese ideographs.[35] 

He is last mentioned (9 June 1712) in a slave transaction when he purchased the slave Januarij van Batavia from Justus J. Benraath for Rds 95.  Domingo probably dies in the smallpox epidemic (1713).

Domingo probably fathers an illegitimate son, Samuel Domingo alias Samuel de Veij

The child’s mother is Maria Jacobs: van Batavia who is initially a Company slave but later a slave of Simon van der Stel.  Later freed she marries with voorkinders the Chinese man and convict Lim Inko who is freed (1695) and baptized Abraham.  He is known, however, as Abraham de Veij.[36]  She had voorkinders legitimized by her marriage ex post facto (16 April 1702). 

Jan Willemsz: Vermeulen (from Utrecht) and Abraham de Veij are neighbours as they appear listed together in the census. 

Samuel Domingo, with Suzanna van Batavia, witness (1 February 1711) the baptism of Cornelia and Hieronijmus, children of Pieter Jansz: van Batavia and Dina Joostz: van de Caap, slaves of Jacobus van der Heijden (a relative of Jan Jansz: van der Heyden, husband to Agnieta Colijn?). 

Samuel Domingo witnesses (8 October 1711), with Susanna Antonisz:, the baptism of Elizabeth, daughter of Claas Cornelisz: and Susanna Leenderts:

Daniel de Vijf, Samuel Domingo and Cornelia Lamans: appear together in the census(1719).  Daniel de Veij and Samuel de Veij also appear in the census (1725). 

Domingo’s widow appears in the census (1716).[37]  Thereafter, she is not mentioned in the census for 1719.

[1] t’Sincko kills a fellow Chinese man in Batavia’s Chinatown or kampong after a gambling dispute. His death sentence is commuted, however, and he is sent to the Cape as a slave for life. Initially the only Chinese man at the Cape, his sentence is short-lived as he dies soon after arrival.  Waniko is sent to the Cape for a six-year term of exile for committing serious unspeakable crimes.  The majority of Chinese men exiled to the Cape hailed from Fukien on mainland China opposite Taiwan a region renowned for pederasty and same-sex marriages.  These practices were viewed intolerably by the Dutch as ‘abominations against Mother Nature’ who banished a number of Chinese men to the Cape for committing sodomy.  A fight with a slave woman within the Fort causes him to run amok attacking all and sundry.  Even when incarcerated, he tries to take his own life.  He is banished to Robben Island.

[2] Mardicjkers originate as mercenaries imported by the Dutch to Ambon (and later Batavia) from other parts of Asia. These are products of the earlier Portuguese Asian empire. Mostly mestizo, these Eurasians are usually Christian and Portuguese-speaking. The term later becomes more fluid and original mardijckers soon become indistinguishable from the rest of the free-black and mixed race free-Asian or non-enslaved local population. For discussions on the concept see J. L. Hattingh, Mens – maar van ‘n ander kleur: Vrygestelde Slawe in Nederlandse Kolonies elders as die Kaap die Goeie Hoop 1600-1800; Robert C.-H. Shell, Children of Bondage:  A Social History of the Slave Society at the Cape of Good Hope 1652-1838;  Robert Shell: ‘The March of the Mardijckers:  The toleration of Islam at the Cape, 1633-1861’, Kronos: Journal of Cape History  Institute for Historical Research, University of the Western Cape, Bellville, no. 22 November 1995, pp. 3-20; Anna J. Böeseken, Slaves and Free Blacks at the Cape 1658-1700; Jean Geldman Taylor, The Social World of Batavia:  European and Eurasian in Dutch Asia.

[3] Pulicat or Pazhaverkadu – historic seashore town in Thiruvallur District, Tamil Nadu, India once the site of the VOC’s main factory on the Indian subcontinent’s Coromandel Coast.

[4] H.C.V. Leibbrandt, Précis of the Archives of the Cape of Good Hope: Letters & Documents Received, Part 2, pp. 100-101.  He is not to be confused with the Domingo [sic] van Bengale mentioned by Böeseken whom she considers incorrectly to be male.  She is in fact another female slave presumably named Dominga belonging to Jan van Riebeeck who never makes any re-appearance in the Cape r eco

[4] H.C.V. Leibbrandt, Précis of the Archives of the Cape of Good Hope: Letters & Documents Received, Part 2, pp. 100-101.  He is not to be confused with the Domingo [sic] van Bengale mentioned by Böeseken whom she considers incorrectly to be male.  She is in fact another female slave presumably named Dominga belonging to Jan van Riebeeck who never makes any re-appearance in the Cape records again.  Note that there is also another Domingo van Bengale but who only buys his freedom from his master Matthijs Greeff (from Magdeburg) on 1 August 1689.  He had been previously owned by Simon van der Stel who sold him together with Dominga van Bengale (aged 25 / 26) and Bacacan van Macassar on 25 September 1686 to Matthijs Greeff.  Böeseken mistakenly assumes him to be the man who marries Maria van Bengale.  No record of Simon van der Stel purchasing Domingo has been found.  A Domingo van Bengale is sold on 13 March 1681 by the widow of Joan de Koningh to Jan Wittebol (from Amsterdam) for Rds 40 (Cape valuation).  Wittebol dies at the Cape in 1681 and Van der Stel presumably purchases Domingo from the deceased estate.

[5] H.C.V. Leibbrandt, Précis of the Archives of the Cape of Good Hope: Letters & Documents Received, Part 2, pp. 58-59]

[6] For a biography on Autshumao alias Harry/ Herry aka Hadah, see the Dictionary South Africa Biography, vol. 2, p. 296.

[7] H.C.V. Leibbrandt, Précis of the Archives of the Cape of Good Hope: Letters & Documents Received, 1649-1662, Part II, pp. 58-9, 100-1, & 130-1, Van Riebeeck’s Journal, vol. II, p. 314 & vol. III, pp. 59-60. 

[8] H.C.V. Leibbrandt, Précis of the Archives of the Cape of Good Hope:  Journal (12 March 1663); Letters and Documents Received 1649-1662, p. 198.

[9] VC 39, vol. 2:  (Muster Roll of Officers & Men at the Cape 1656-1673), pp. 137-155. 

[10] The transcription of his Chinese name in Dutch records has been misread (and perpetuated) by historians as Tuko and Juko [see James C. Armstrong, Hans F. Heese & Antonia Malan].

[11] This is her former master’s name.

[12] Now part of Wuppertal in North Rhine-Wetphalia, Germany.

[13] Johan Vermeulen, email to SAGenealogie (10 August 2004); SA Stamouers

[14] (1) Maria Vermeulen baptised Cape 11 September 1707 (father: Derk Vermeulen; mother: Jannetie Hanse; witnesses:  Klaas Bue & Anna Marij); marries 13 December 1733 Gideon de Wege; (2) Cornelis Vermeulen baptised Cape 12 August 1708 (father: Dirck Cornelisz:; mother Jannetje Hans:; witnesses:  Cornelis van der Laan met Elizabeth Marcusz:); marries Stellenbosch 24 November 1743 Adriana Plooy (daughter of Simon Plooy and Catharina Coopmans:). She has sexual relations when still a minor with a Cape aborigine named Hermanus, by whom she has a child, which illegal activity necessitates intervention by the Orphan Chamber and the Council of Justice.

[15] Ditmarsken (Danish) or Ditmarschen (German) is originally part of the kingdom of Denmark but is now part of the land of Schleswig-Holstein in the Federal Republic of Germany.

[16] She is a former Company slave and possibly the daughter of the political exiles Paaij Timoor and Ansela van Timor and should not be confused with the wife of the free-burgher Hans Silberbach who is also a Cape-born Eurafrican named Ansela.

[17] A Cornelia van de Caep also baptized a free-born son Daniel, fathered by Michiel Düring (from Leipzich) and witnessed by Daniel Barnou and Anna Louis on 1 July 1704.  Later known as Daniel Du(u)ring he marries (1stly) Francina Anthonie van de Caep and marries (2ndly) on 30 August 1733 Susanna Coeser / Coetzer baptized 1 April 1714 (father: Johannes Jacobus Coetzer; mother: Cornelia Lam(m)ans) (witness: Gerrit van Deventer).  He dies in 1741.

[18] (1) Cecilia baptized Cape 26 October 1704 (father David van Macassar) (witnesses: Domingo van Bengale en sijn huijsvrouw Maria van Bengale); (2) Jannetie baptized Cape 2 October 1707 (mother:  Cornelia van [de] Caab) (witnesses: Domingo van Bengale & Maria van Bengale); (3) Nicolaas baptized Cape 12 July 1711 (father:  Dominicus Jansz: van Amsterdam) (mother: Cornelia van de Caap) (witnesses: Domingo van Bengalen and Elisabeth Marcusz:).

[19] Francisco Perera is the slave Francisco once belonging to Willem van Dieden who allows him to purchase his freedom on 25 May 1684 for Rds 50.  He is not to be confused with another Francisco van Manila.  The Governor-General in Batavia, in a letter (1 August 1673), informs the Cape authorities that a convict named Francisco Manilha had been sentenced to be banished to the Cape for 10 years [H.C.V. Leibbrandt, Precis of the Archives of the Cape of Good Hope:  Journal 1671-1674 & 1676, p. 160 (entry dated 25 September 1673)].  On 5 March 1684 Francisco Pireera and the mother of his child Cingala van Madagascar baptize a son, Bartholomeus.  This baptism coincides with that of Agnitie Colijn the daughter of een swarte vrye meit Maria [Maria Everts: van de Caep]François van Macao, freed slave requests the freedom of his son, Bartholomeus (3 years-old) by the Company slave, Cingala vanMadagascar [CA: C 18, pp. 102-104; (Resolusies van die Politieke Raad, 14 January 1687), vol.  III, p. 154].  His request is granted.  He also has another son, Salvador(mother: an unnamed slave from Madagascar, presumably also Cingala?) who is baptized at the Cape Church on 15 January 1679.  There are no witnesses to the baptism.  He is listed in the tax rolls for 1688: No. 90: Franciscus Perera: 1 man; 1 son; 1 snaphaen; 1 degen; Cape

[20] Emanuel Perreira and Jan Figoredo / Figureto co-purchase on 15 July 1687 an erf [Block F] from W.C. Emmerhorst (926 r 31’) (374,2 sq m) for f 1300.  Jan Figoredo, hoffmeester to Simon van der Stel had been liberated in 1686 together with his chef, Ventura van Ceylon, in recognition of their faithful services. Figureto is still listed in the tax rolls of 1692.

[21] A.J. Boeseken, Slaves and Free Blacks at the Cape, 1658-1700, pp. 48-50.

[22] The farm is subsequently transferred to Christian Ehlers from the estate of Beyer and his deceased wife on 26 January 1701.  This farm, combined with the farm Amandelkloof, becomes known as Hartenberg in 1725 and later belongs to Catrijn Wagenmakers:’s son-in-law,Christoffel Esterhuizen (dies 1724), who also farms at the neighbouring Onrust en Harmonie.

[23] Hans Rutgertroost, freeman, husband and guardian of his wife, Aachje Claasz: Keijsers:, mother and sole heir of her son Huijbert van Breda, late soldier in the Company’s service.

[24] Margaret Cairns has 1 March.

[25] Lammert Simonsz: Stam is married to Maria Jans: Visser (from Ommen). 

[26] “The following families proceed to the Cape by the WaddinxveenCatharina and Abigail Marquart, spinsters.  And by the Cattendyk the Mardyker Domingo of Bengal with his wife.”

[27] Transporten en Schepenkennis.

[28] H. F. Heese, Groep Sonder Grense, pp. 22 & 29.

[29] No. 379:  Domingo van Bengale: 1 man; Maria van Bengale: 1 wife; 1 flintlock; 1 rapier; Cape.

[30] Is this the same person who becomes known in adult life as Maria Vosloo?  Also known as T(h)amar(a),  she is the slave belonging to Baes Jan Vosloo.  She had already baptized an unnamed infant [? Johannes Vosloo Jr.] on 6 September 1699 and witnessed by Antonij Jillis: and Anna Ledimans:.  On 4 February 1703 she baptizes an infant Juliana fathered by Moses van Bengale and witnessed by Octavio van Maccasser and Catrina van de Caab.  In 1714 she baptized twin children (one white and one black) fathered by Pieter Daaldijn (a ‘black’ man).

[31] Probably Mombasa on the east coast of Africa.

[32] No. 50:  Domingo van Bengale; 1 man; 1 wife; Cape.

[33] On 9 November 1710 Hester also baptizes a slave infant son Ismael fathered by Jan Swart and witnessed by Johanna Victor.  The free-black Maaij Ansela van Bengale owns a slave named Jan Swart whom her husband Arnoldus Willemsz: Basson (from Wesel in the Duchy of Cleves) had purchased from Jean-Baptist du Bertin on 20 March 1681.

[34] No. 157:  Domingo van Bengale; 1 man; Maria van Bengale;  1 wife; 1 slave (female adult); 1 flintlock; 1 rapier; Cape.

[35] CA: CJ 2598, no. 41 (Joint will: Domingo van Bengale & Maria van Bengale, 1712).

[36] He refers to himself as Abraham of Africa as ‘Veij’ (‘fay’ is Chinese for ‘Africa’).

[37] No. 312 Bengale v[an] Wed[uwee] V[rij]S[wart] Domingo.

The Name CLAAS at the Cape of Good Hope during the VOC period (1652-1795)

The Name CLAAS at the Cape of Good Hope during the VOC period (1652-1795)

Researched, Compiled and written by Mansell George Upham (Helderstroom Farm, Bossiesveld October 2000)

No history of the name Claas (and its patronymic variants) in South Africa would be satisfactory, or anywhere near complete, without a comprehensive overview of its distribution and also a compilation of the known people who were identified, or identified themselves, by such names.  This blog is an overview of the name and the people associated with this name found in the early records of this country during the VOC’s occupation of the Cape of Good Hope (1652-1795).  Although the list is comprehensive, it is not exhaustive.  The Cape under the VOC was primarily a station where the Company’s servants seldom settled permanently.  Even those Company servants and freed slaves who had opted for burgher papers (ie the right to become free or private citizens) often quit the Cape for greener pastures.  With the result many men named CLAAS came and went.  They either left no further trace of their Cape existence or conceivably, sometimes left their marks (directly or indirectly) in the form of offspring.

The name CLAAS – The usage and evolution of patronymics at the Cape


The name CLAASSENS and its variants CLAASE / CLAASEN / CLAASSEN / CLAASZ / CLAASZOON / CLAAZE / CLAESEN / CLAESZ / CLAESSEN / CLASSEN / CLASZ / CLASZEN / CLAUSZEN / KLAASSEN and KLASZEN are all patronymics (ie paternity indicators) of CLAAS / CLAES meaning son of Claas.  The name Claas itself is an abbreviated form of the name Nicolaas and its variants Nikolaas, Nikkel, Klaas, Nicholas and Nick.[1] The name Nicholas derives from the Latin Nic(h)olaus and the Greek  Nikolaos meaning ‘victory + people’.

The use of patronymics preceded the adoption of family names or surnames in northern Europe amongst the lower (non-titled, non-landed) classes.  This Germanic custom (not uniquely Germanic, however, but also found in other societies) was prevalent during the Middle Ages (and earlier) throughout Scandinavia, the British isles, the Lowlands and present-day German-speaking countries.  Invariably, patronymics also came to be adopted as surnames.  Whereas each successive generation’s patronymic would change in terms of each new father, eg Claes Jansz (ie Claes, Jan’s son) to Pieter Claesz (ie Pieter, Claes’s son), this custom eventually fell away and certain families came to adopt permanently a specific patronymic as surname to be inherited unchanged by successive generations.  In this way the name Claas (and variants) have become entrenched as family names with which whole groups of descendants in the male line can identify in terms of kinship and ties of blood. To this day, it is only in Iceland that the old custom continues where people are listed by their first names in the telephone directory and in current official and community records. 

During the early VOC-period of South Africa’s history, patronymics were used indiscriminately.  By the early 1700s the singular use of patronymics started to disappear in the records.  Either, they became established as fixed surnames or they preceded already existing or newly adopted family names or followed them (eg Arnoldus Willemsz: Basson and Hendrik Christiaan Blatt Jansz.).  This later convention also started to disappear by the end of the 19th century.  The initial prevalence of an exclusive use of patronymics (ie without a family name) – even when surnames were in existence in certain families – bedevils any genealogical research into the early colonial records of the Cape of Good Hope.

Although this work is primarily concerned with the family histories and genealogies of certain progenitors (stamvaders) – all named Classen / Claassen / Claassens / Klaassen – in South Africa and their descendants up to the present day who still go by these names, the positive identification of individual people in the country’s early colonial and recorded history is crucial in terms of establishing and verifying the genealogical links that may, or may not, exist between various individuals sharing the same name or even names.[2]  In this way the different families and individuals can be properly distinguished from each other and ties of blood correctly recorded.

Who were the many individuals either named Claas or known by their patronymic son of Claas that found themselves at the Cape of Good Hope during the early period of the VOC occupation?  What follows is a CLAAS WHO’s WHO – a chronological listing of all such individuals that could be found in extant records.  Where descendants are known, these have been included in mini-genealogies. 

A noticeable feature is the many individuals called CLAAS all hailing from territories once under the Danish crown such as the Duchy of Slesvig, the County of Holsten and the short-lived ‘burgher republic’ of the Dithmarsh (Ditmarsken in Danish and Ditmarschen in German).  The name is assuredly predominant in northern Europe. 

Fotoflug über das nordfriesische Wattenmeer – Norderdithmarschen (von SW), links hinten Eidersperrwerk, links außen Linnenplate mit Linnensand, vorne rechts Blauortsand, ganz rechts Blauort [Ralf Roletschek]

Also noteworthy is the popularity of the name amongst the slave and aboriginal peoples at the Cape whose descendants still identify themselves by the name CLAAS (and variants thereof) to this day.

The name CLAAS and its variants in the 17th century

The very first recorded person in Cape records using the name CLAAS as a patronymic was Ariën CLAESSEN / Ariën CLAES  in 1653.  Ariën Claes van Hilgom, bosschieter was convicted for stealing fruit together with Hendrik Tijmons van Campen.  They were thrashed with 100 strokes each.[3]

The very first recorded persons in Cape records having CLAAS as a first name were CLAES Jansz from Wesep (a junior mate) and CLAES Willemsz Boom of the Beemster, (a butcher’s mate).  Both are listed in the muster for the garrison in 1656.  The next persons recorded at the Cape (also in 1656) but with the patronymic, were Albert CLAESZ from Franicker, a master carpenter of the Company, Jacob CLAESZ Bolck from Enckhuysen, a carpenter and Jan CLAESZ from Rarep, a young sailor, listed in the garrison.

An en passant CLAASSEN

An interesting middle-ranking official of the VOC who stopped over at the Cape was Jochem CLAESSEN / Jochim CLASSEN.  On board the Orangie whilst anchored off the island of St Helena, he signed as Jochem Claessen a letter (dated 27 May 1656) received at the Cape.[4] We next find him signing as Jochem Claessen a letter (dated 4 September 1657) which had been thrown from the distressed ship Rotterdam in Table Bay.[5]  We last find him as Jochim Classen / Jochim Claese signing resolutions (dated 2, 7 and 12 March 1661) of the Broad Council at the Fort of Good Hope under the chairmanship of commissioner Andries Frisius.[6]

In the following year (1657), we find the following individuals enumerated in the muster rolls:

CLAES Cornelisz from Hangelaer (a millwright)

CLAES Jacobsz from Amsterdam (the commander on the Cape yacht Robbejacht)[7]

CLAES Jansz from Sedan (adelborst)

CLAES Fredericksz a young sailor from Amsterdam who became a free-burgher on 12 November 1657 and thereafter a knecht 1658 in service of the free-burgher Leendert Cornelisz from Sevenhuysen

CLAES Schrijver / Schryver a sailor from ‘t Ampt Beest.  He became a free-burgher on 15 December 1657 and a  knecht in  1658 working for the free-burghers Jan Reyniersz from Amsterdam and Wouter Cornelisz Mostert  who farmed together in the free-burgher settlement known as Visagie’s Company.

Jacob CLAESZ from Ter Schellingh, (an arquebusier).

Jan CLAESSEN from Wesselenboere [ie Wesselbüren in Danish Holsten][8] a wagon driver together with Hans de Bout and Carel Broers from Stockholm.[9] He appears in the muster rolls as an adelborst for the years 1656, 1657 and 1658.

Meester Jan CLAESZ Vetteman from Amsterdam.  He was the chief surgeon and appears together with his unnamed wife in the muster rolls (both garrison and free-burgher list) for the years 1657 and 1658.

Cornelis CLAES / CLAESSEN / CLAESZ  / CLASSEN from Utrecht (alias Kees de Boer)

Better known by his contemporaries as Kees de Boer, he was the first free-burgher to settle in the new colony of Stellenbosch.  Originally from Utrecht, he arrived at the Cape as a sailor in the latter part of 1657.[10]  As he was an important stamvader, he and his descendants are dealt with separately.  

The year 1658 saw the appearance of three more CLAAS namesakes:

CLAES Evertsz from Ter Goude, (a sail-maker).  He arrived in the flute De Meese in 1658 and was brought sick on shore here… dying soon thereafter.

CLAES Jansz Nobel from Hasselt (a lance-corporal).  He appears in the muster rolls for the years 1658, 1660, 1661 (carpenter) and 1662 (carpenter).

Jan CLAESSEN from Steenwijck / Steenwyck.  He arrived on the Wapen van Amsterdam on 28 March 1658 at a salary of 9 guilders a month.

Since then he has conducted himself industrious and faithfully in his various duties, as an honourable man ought to do.  In view of his many good services, his request is hereby granted and he is promoted to the rank of cadet at a salary of 12 guilders a month, as from to-day.

He appears as a soldier in the garrison for the years 1659, 1660, 1661 (cadet), and 1662 (cadet).

More Europeans arrive…

The year 1659 saw a number of European men named either Claas or Claassen disembark at the Cape:

CLAES Geraertssen from Leeuwen.[11]  A sailor on the Prins Willem, he became a free-burgher 26 June 1658. A free-burgher’s servant, he stowed away in 1659.

CLAAS / CLAUS Jacobs / Jacobsz van Meldorp (ie Meldorf in Danish Holsten).  A sailor on the Princesse Royale, he became a free-burgher on 23 March 1659.  In 1662 he was a knecht with Leendert Cornelisz from Sevenhuysen.  He married (firstly) 27 May 1668 Dorot(h)ea Anna Marg(a)ret(h)a Sperlings / Spelinghs from Klostergröningen (near Magdeburg).  He married (secondly) June 1671[12] Aag(t)je Rix / Rijcks from ter Veer.  He was massacred on 4 June 1673 by aborigines at Moordkuil.  They had one child who became an important stammoeder:

b1           Susanna CLAASSEN baptised  Cape 19 February 1672

and confirmed at Stellenbosch met belydenis 27 October 1690

married 12 November 1684

Matthias / Matthys Greef from Magdeburg

His widow married (2ndly) 17 March 1675 Jacob Hendriksz van der Oder and married (3rdly) 2 May 1677 Jacob Hertsz Brouwer (alias Jacob Aerts Brouwer) from Tiel.

CLAES Jansz Blauw from Calis, (a boatswain’s mate in 1659).

CLAES Lammertsz / Lambertsz from Aelsmeer / Aelsmoer / Alsmeer.  An arquebusier at the Fort in 1659, he became a free-burgher on 3 December 1659.  In 1661 and 1662, he is recorded as the Company’s cook and baker.  He signed an attestation (dated 25 March 1661) alleging that Kees de Boer was the father of the child of Jan Reyniersz’s slave, Isabella van Angola.

CLAES Wiskebroeck from Lingerick, sailor on the Malacca free-burgher 29 October 1659.

Coenraedt CLAESZ / CLAASZ from Delft, arquebusier at the Fort,  He was granted free-burgher status 1 February 1659.  He is listed as a knecht in 1660 and 1661 for the surveyor free carpenter Leendert Cornelisz from Sevenhuysen.

Goris CLAESSEN. In terms of a r esolution of the Council of Policy (29 May 1659) he was employed at the Cape:[13]

Goris Claessen of Langerack[14] leaving the return fleet at St. Helena of his own free will, approached our men there with a request that he might join their ‘company’, and has come here in the flute Zuijlen.  The Hon. Koedijck, Commander of the return fleet, had granted him a quartermaster’s wages of 14 guilders a month.  He has now applied to be employed in the same capacity aboard the Schapenjacht.  Since the officers of the flute Zuijlen have testified that is ability warrants this appointment and since we are in need of such a person, he is accepted by the Council for this purpose.

The year 1660 saw two more arrivals:

CLAES Fopkes from ‘t Joumarum, He was a knecht in 1660 and 1661 for the surveyor free-carpenter Leendert Cornelisz from Sevehuysen.

CLAES Roeloffsz ter Maet from The Hague.  He arrived in the Vogel Phenix in 1660 and is listed as a cadet in 1661.  He died in 1661.

In 1661 an abundance of namesakes arrived:

CLAES Eldertz, alias CLAUS Ehlers / Elderts from Meldorp [ie Meldorf in Danish Holsten].  He was a soldier at the Fort.  He became a burgher on 20 July 1661.  In 1662 he appears as knecht with Leendert Cornelisz from Sevehuysen and is still mentioned in 1706.

CLAES Jansz from Pelsum / Teelsum.  An arquebusier he appears in the muster rolls for 1661 and 1662.

CLAES Jansz from Alkmaer, arquebusier on the galiot De Perkiet.  He became a burgher on 1 April 1661 and was knecht with the  Saldanhavaerders under Thomas Christoffel Müller from Leipzig.

CLAES Salamonsz from Leeuwaerden in Friesland. A soldier, he arrived in the Parel in 1661, dying that same year.

Barend CLAES ter Maet from Assen.  He was a soldier in 1661.

Gysbert CLAAS / CLAESZ van Stecklenborgh from Tecklenburg [from Montfoort according to letter of freedom].  He was a soldier on the ship Dordrecht and became a free-burgher on 5 May 1661 still appearing as such for the years 1663-65.[15]

Jacob CLAASEN from Cologne.  He was a free-burgher and farmer for the years  1661-70.[16] Is he the same Jacob Claasz that appears in the Opgaaf for 1682?[17]


CLAES Oliviersz from Amsterdam, arquebusier 1662.

CLAES Willemsz from Rennep, junior carpenter 1662.

Hendrik CLAESZ from Utrecht.  A soldier. He became a burgher on 20 September 1662.


Burchard CLAAS / Burgert CLAES / CLAESZ  / Burger CLAESZ  / CLAAS van Bremen from the Hansa city of Bremen, he became a burgher in 1663. 

He appears in the Muster Roll for free-burghers[18].  He appears to be the same person as CLAAS  / CLAESZ van Bremen the burgher who was sentenced to 2 years’ hard labour for theft.[19]  As a knecht was charged for desertion but handed himself over.[20]  He was sentenced on 6 December 1664 to 2 months on Robben island ad opus publicum.  In 1664 he is enumerated in the muster roll as knecht of Steven Jansz [Botma] van Wageningen.[21]

Jan CLAESZ a soldier (provenance unknown) who died soon after arrival at the Cape: …Van dage sijn hier in ‘t sieckenhuijs overleden 2 soldaten, d’eene genaemt Jan Claesz, jongst van de Vogel Phenix hier gebleven en de twede Denis Vlegtman van ‘t schip Sparendam, sieckelijck hier aen lant gesonden.[22]


Cornelis CLAES / CLAESZ from Nieucoop, a skutter / bosschieter.  Stationed at the Dutch buitepost at Mauritius, he is mentioned in the trial of Egbert Jansz van Amsterdam on 4 November 1665.[23]  He was convicted for theft and desertion and sentenced to 10 years banishment to Robben Island or elsewhere.

Christian CLAAS from Lehe.  He arrived in 1665 as soldier.  He died on 23 November 1666 while on loan from the Company as a smith.


Jacobus CLAASZ

On 8 May 1666 Jacobus Claasz, a sailmaker (origin unknown) was convicted for uttering verbal abuse.  His pay earned on the voyage to be forfeited and only paid back should his behaviour improve.

Juste / Justus CLAESEN.  A soldier (origin unknown), his death is recorded in the Journal:[24]

Donderdagh, 18ed do.  Is heden weder een soldaet met ‘t schip Rhijnlant jongstleden uijtgecomen in ‘t sieckenhuijs gestorven, genaemt Juste Claesen.

CLAES Jansz.  A sailor on the Walcheren he was convicted (together with Salomon Michiels) for fighting on 14 October 1666 and sentenced to a fine of one month’s pay.


CLAUS Vechtman(n) from Meran / Merano in South Tyrol (now part of Italy).  A woodcutter, he arrived in 1667 on the Batavia and became a burgher in that same year.  On 26 November 1667 Claas Vechtman van Tirool was convicted for stabbing and sentenced to 3 years in chains and the forfeiture of 6 months salary.   On 10 May 1670, he married Isabella / Beeltje / Belletje Frederiks from Amsterdam.  Vechtmann died on 18 January 1672.

They had one son:

b1           Claas Vechtman / Klaas Vegtman baptised 22 March 1672.  Apparently physically disabled or cripple, he never married and was a blacksmith at Stellenbosch known by the nickname Vulkaan.

After his death, his widow married (secondly) the stamvader of the

Potgieter family on 8 May 1672 Harman Jansz [Potgieter] van Noorthoorn[25]


Claes Pietersz van Leiden.  He was convicted for assault.  The fiscal asked the Council of Justice to sentence him to 3 years in chains on Robben island and the forfeiture of 6 months wages.  He appears as Claes Pietersen as a convict op den uytkijck on Robben Island in the muster for 14 March 1670 and as Claas Pietersen – a bandiet on Robben Island in the muster for 1 January 1671.  Is he the same person as Claes Pietersz who was convicted (together with Carstens Laurentsz) for drunken behaviour and theft on 15 June 1672?[26]


Pieter CLAASZ van Tonningen.  From Tönning in the Eiderstedt, Danish Slesvig.  He was convicted on 18 March 1669 for provoking others to fight and he was sentenced to corporal punishment and a fine of 10 reals of 8.


CLAES Lüder.  From Mecklenburg,  He arrived as adelborst and appears in the muster of 1664.  Later, when a stablemaster, he was convicted on 12 June 1670 for negligence.  He was demoted and had to pay compensation amounting to 30 guilders and the forfeiture of 2 months’ salary.

Michiel CLAASZ van Stockholm

On 7 March 1670, Michiel Claasz from Stockholm in Sweden and Hendrick Adamsz van Harlingen were convicted for stabbing.  They were sentenced to one year banishment on Robben Island and the forfeiture of 6 months salary.  They also had to repay their master loan of Rds 14.  The muster for 14 March 1670 lists him as Michiel Claesz van Stockholm matroos –  a bandiet on Robben Island.


CLAES Hendriks.  He was convicted (together with Roelof Pietersen and Jan de Coster) for missing their ship.  He had to forfeit 6 months salary whilst doing hard labour in chains.

CLAES Barenski.  He was convicted on 18 November 1671 for desertion.  He had been missing for 4 months.  He was denied the right to ever be a soldier again and banished ad opus publicum for 2 years on Robben Island.


CLAES Pietersz.  He was convicted (together with Carstens Laurentsz for theft and being drunk on 15 June 1672.  He was flogged 100 times and dropped from the yard 10 times.  3 months salary had to be forfeited to the fiscal pro fisco cum expensis.


CLAAS Hendricksz [Diepenow].  He signed his name Claus Hinrich Diepenow.  From Barefleet onder Meldorp in’t Ditmarschen in’t Hertogdom Holsteijn, [ie Barsfleth in the Dithmarsh] he was the son of Hinrich Diepenow and Magdalena Jochem.  A free-burgher, he owned the farms Joostenburg and Waarburg.  He was burgher councillor and orphan master.  On 7 February 1677 he married Anna Schlecht / Slegts from Mörs, the widow of Jan Steens from Wesel.  He married (2ndly) 3 May 1707 Sara Wilhemina Tas from Amsterdam.  He died childless in 1712.[27]


CLAAS Gerrits from Amsterdam.  He married at the Cape on 23 April 1684 Margaretha Helm (daughter of Hans Helm from Denmark and Geertruy Willemse).  The marriage entry reads as follows:

Claas Gerrits, jonghman, ondertimmerman van Amsterdam en Margarita Helmus, jongedochter, alhier.

They appear to have left the Cape.[28]

The family is not enumerated in the muster for 1688.


Aart CLAASZ appears as a single male free-burgher in the Opgaaf Rol.  He is not listed in the muster for 1692.

Myndert Claasz appears as a single male free-burgher in the Opgaaf Rol.  He is not listed in the muster for 1692.


Hans CLAASEN [signed his name Hansz Claszen].  From the Dithmarsh, he became a burgher at Stellenbosch and is recorded there for the years 1690-92.  In 1692 he was sentenced to 6 years’ hard labour for illicit trade with cattle.


Luitje CLAASE [origin unknown].  He is listed as a single man in the Opgaaf Rol owning 1 rapier (degen).


Pieter CLAAS van Ditmarssen. [29]  He was from the Dithmarsch.  He purchased on 8 May 1698 the slave CLAAS van Malabar (aged 20) from Leendert van Dijl.  On 23 January 1699 he also purchased the slave CLAAS van Trancquebare (aged 12) from Andreas Frorop, captain of the Danish ship Charlotte Amelie for Rds 50.  He is not enumerated in the free-burgher muster for 1700.

The name CLAAS in the 18th century


Johann Hinrich CLAASEN [signed CLASZ].  From Hamburg, he was a soldier for the period 1701-3, becoming a burgher in 1704.


Hendrik CLAAS, alias Heinrich KLODT from Lübeck.  A soldier in 1703, he was loaned as baker from 1 March to 25 September 1704.  He is recorded as a wagon-driver in 1705 and a soldier in 1711.  He signed as Hendrik Claas as one of the supporters of Willem Adriaan van der Stel during the events that lead to the governor’s recall. 


Cornelis CLAASZ alias Cornelis Claasz CUYP / KUIP / KUYP / KUIJP[30]

According to De Villiers/Pama, he hailed from the Netherlands.  He died 1715Hemarried (in Europe?)  Maria Duysers / Duysert / Duitsers (daughter of Willem Duysert).  They appear in the muster of 1705.  They had the following children:

b1           Judith baptised 10 October 1706

van Cornelis Klaasz Cuijp en Maria Duijser, onder getuyge van  Jan Cruijwagen en Catrina van Maarsen gen:[aam]t Judith

married (1) 1 June 1721 Johannes Smuts (son of Michiel Cornelisz / Adriaansz Smuts from Loon Opsant in Brabant and Cornelia Emael from Simpelvelt, Limburg)

married (2ndly) 21 May 1730 Willem Meyer from Bremen

married (3rdly) 21 September 1738 Godfried Heydenreich from Mülhausen

He married (2ndly) 5 February 1741 Johanna Rogiers

b2           Claas baptised 14 August 1708

1708:  14 8ber Van Cornelis Claasz Kuip en Maria Duitsers de getuijgen Isaac Hommes en Maria Lugtenburg – Claas

b3           Willemina baptised 13 December 1711 (witnesses: Willem Duitsers and Catharina van Maarseven); married 28 July 1728 Nicolaas Smuts (son of Michiel Cornelisz Smuts from Middelburg and Cornelia Emael)


Jacob CLAASEN from the Dithmarsh.  He was a soldier and was loaned as a farmhand (1711-1712).


Claas CLAASEN / Clausz CLAUSZEN / Claasz CLAASZEN from Delve in the Dithmarsh.  An important South African stamvader with the most prolific progeny having the surname Claassen.


Johann CLAASEN from Friedrichstadt.  He was a soldier and was loaned as farmhand 1721-1738.


Jürgen CLAASEN.  He signed his name KLASZENHe was from Meschede.  He was a soldier and loaned as farmhand in 1726.


Loef CLAAS from Mook.  He murdered Heinrich Neef from Bordesholm in Danish Holsten and became a fugitive. His victim was the step-father to Aletta Knudsen, the wife of CLAUS CLAUSZEN from Delve in the Dithmarsh.  He was sentenced to death in absentia on 4-6 December 1727.  He fled in a ship to the Netherlands but was brought back to the Cape where his sentence was carried out.  On 2 April 1729 he was hanged and buried under the gallows. 


Hendrik CLAAS

From Glarus in the canton of Grisons in Switzerland.  He arrived on 20 January 1740 on the Vreeland (Chamber of Amsterdam) and was a soldier for the period 1740-1743.


Claas Jacob CLAAS / CLAASEN from Eiderstedt according to his will.  In the muster rolls, however, his birthplace is given as Vollewiek [ie Vollerwiek], near Garding in Danish Slesvig).  He was a sailor (1762-1763), a signalman (1764-1769), a quartermaster (1770-1776) and a substitute messenger of Council of Justice (1777-1788).  He died in 1788.  He had married on  24 November 1771 Helena Boonsaaier (daughter of Willem Boonzaaier from Utrecht and Hendrina Mulder).  They had 3 children:

b1           Jan Wilhelm baptised 27 September 1772

b2           Hendrina Johanna baptised 7 November 1773

married 16 February 1800 Marthinus van Blerk (son of Rogier Bernhardus van Blerk and Hilletje Giebelaar)

b3           Wilhelmus Hendricus baptised 11 February 1776


Hermanus Claasen from København (Copenhagen), Sjælland (Zealand), Danmark (Denmark). 

In a petition (requesten) asking for burgher papers, he is described as a coppersmith Harman Claase of Elseneur [ie Helsingør[31]].  He arrived as a soldier at the Cape in 1765 on the Overnes.  In 1794 Gabriel Vos requested the Cape authorities to appoint Herman Claaze in de Graave Straat as one of the vertappers. [32]  He is not recorded as living in Cape Town in 1800.  He married (1stly) 10 July 1768 Johanna / Jannetje van Wyk (daughter of Willem Willemsz van Wijck and Hendrina Monk).  He married (2ndly)  15 January 1786 Sara Maria Stricker (daughter of Wilhelm Stricker from Hamm and Dorothea van Batavia).  He had the following children:

b1           Anna Hendrina baptised 19 August 1770; died in infancy

b2           Johan Coenraad baptised 1 September 1771

b3           Andries Diederik baptised 25 July 1773

b4           Anna Hendrina baptised 11 September 1774

married 10 May 1795 Peter Heinrich Kuljes / Keulkes from Haardt in Germany (born 1760; arrived a soldier; knecht for Herman Claassen

b5           Johanna Maria baptised 30 November 1776

b6           Johannes Wilhelmus

b7           Lourens Frederik baptised 1787

b8           Dorothea Frederika baptised 3 August 1788

b9           Carel Christiaan Claasen baptised 13 March 1791

married 21 February 1819 Johanna Apollonia [Jacobs] van de Caab.  She married (2ndly) at the DRC Zwartland (Malmesbury) 26 April 1847 Christiaan Johannes Beelders Snr. (born 1787 and baptised at Zwartland 24 December 1848) whose descendants were prolific at Zwartland (Malmesbury) and Groenekloof (Darling).

b10         Wilhelmus Josephus baptised 1793

b11         Johanna Frederika baptised 24 April 1796


Claas CLAASEN / CLAUSEN from Meldorf in Danish Holsten.  He was a soldier first loaned as farmhand (1775-1776) and then becoming arquebusier (1777-1780).


Claas CLAASEN from Norden in Ost Friesland.  He arrived in 1785.  He was a  Company wagon-driver and in 1790 he was relieved from service.  He appears as Clas Claasen from Vriesland in 1800 residing at Windmolen in Cape Town together with Christian Kreffat.  He is referred to as a sailor who had been released from the service of the VOC.[33]

The name CLAAS  in the 19th century


Cornelis CLAASEN / Klaasz from Pumerend in Noord-Holland.  He died on 7 August 1814.  He married (1stly) 3 November 1799 Engela Koopman (daughter of Bartholomeus Koopman and Elsie van Wyk).  He married (2ndly) Swellendam January 1812 Gerbrecht van Locherenberg / Loggerenberg (daughter of Nicolaas van Locherenberg and Gesina Fortman / Voortman / Vortman, widow of Frans Verkouter / Kouter).  She married (2ndly) George 7 May 1815 Frederik Krots / Krotz from Germany (widower of Johanna Jacoba Kruger / Krugel).  She married (3rdly) Swellendam 4 February 1837 Thomas Gordon.

Slavery at the Cape of Good Hope

The first slaves at the Cape arrived individually from VOC ships (return fleets) from Batavia (Jakarta) and Ceylon (Sri Lanka).  Sold by Company officials returning home, these were mostly household slaves.  These slaves originated mostly from the Indian sub-continent, south-east Asia and the Indonesian archipelago.  The first slaves to arrive en masse at the Cape were two shiploads (the Amersfoort and the Hasselt) from Upper Guinea (purchased at Popo) and Lower Guinea (ie Angola) in 1658. 

Thereafter the slave population continued to be supplemented by Asian slaves in private transactions by returning officials and free-burghers voyaging on Netherlands-bound Company ships.  At times the Company would also send out Asian slaves en masse to the Cape in order to increase the colony’s labour force. 

The Cape, however, was encouraged to organise its own slave trading expeditions and purchase slaves from tribal leaders in Madagascar and Moçambique.  Soon Malagasy and east African slaves came to dominate the Company’s labour force. 

Slaves from the East continued to be imported by English and Danish ships but were invariably sold individually and privately to local officials and free-burghers. 

The name CLAAS soon also took root amongst this segment of the Cape colonial population.

Slaves from Angola and Guinea named CLAAS


He was a Company slave (either from Angola or Guinea) who absconded with another slave called WILLEM.  They were put on trial on 4 October 1660) and were whipped and branded.  Could he have been the biological father of the freed slave woman Armosyn Claes van de Caab?


He was a slave belonging to the Cape’s first VOC commander Jan van Riebeeck who sold him on 20 April 1662 to Roelof(f) de Man.  He is likely to be the same person as CLAES van Angola, aged 24, who was sold by Matthijs Coeijmans to Dirck Jansz Smient for Rds 95 on 2 March 1671.

CLAAS van Angola

He was a slave sold on 27 November 1665 (together with Anna van Angola) by Jochum Cornelis Blanck to the free tailor Elbert Diemer.[34]

Slaves from Madagascar named CLAAS

CLAAS van Madagascar a slave aged 20 sold (together with Isabel van Madagascar. By William Deeron to Ocker Cornelis [ie Ockert Cornelisz. Olivier] (price unspecified) on 5 May 1686.

CLAAS van Madagascar a slave aged 16 sold (together with David van Madagascar) by Will Deeron to Gerrit Victor for Rds 95 each on 6 February 1690.

CLAUS van Madagascar a slave aged 8 sold by W. Deeron to Jan Stevensz Botma for Rds 40 on 6 February 1690.

CLAAS van Madagascar and Jannetje van Madagascar – slaves of the governor, Simon van der Stel, baptised the following children:

b1           Leander baptised (Register for Slaven Kinderen des Vrijborgers of Comp: Dienaeren) 3 October 1694 (witness: Magdalena van Bengale – slave of Simon van der Stel)

b2           Clara baptised (Register for Slaven Kinderen des Vrijborgers of Comp: Dienaeren) 23 September 1696 (witness: Magdalena van Bengale)

b3           Elias baptised (Register for Slaven Kinderen des Vrijborgers of Comp: Dienaeren) 20 April 1704 (witnesses: Gideon Misen and Susanna van de Kust)

CLAAS van Madagascar a slave aged 24/25 sold by Will Gutter to the free-blacksmith Pieter van der Poel for Rds 83 on 28 December 1696.  He was sold on 13 May 1694 by Pieter van der Poel to Andries Gauché, blacksmith in Drakenstein.

CLAAS van Madagascar (aged 12) sold together with Juna, Mary, Pieter, Cupido, Paulus and Valentijn all from Madagascar, his price being Rds 80 by Richard Glover, captain of the Amity to Jan Dircx de Beer on 8 February 1696.  On 11 February 1696 Jan Dircx de Beer sold him (now aged 16!) to Petronella van Breda vrijburgeresse alhier for Rds 90.  On 24 June 1697 Pieternella Breda sold him (now aged 18) to Douwe Steijn for Rds 90.

CLAAS van Madagascar a slave (aged 20) sold by Herman Verbruggen, seaman of de Soldaat to Jan Coetzee [sic – Kotze] for Rds 90 on 8 March 1697.  On 30 November 1697 Jan Cotze [Kotze] sold CLAAS (now aged 19!) to Rev. Pierre Simond for Rds 110.

CLAAS van Madagascar (aged 20) a slave sold (together with Willem van Madagascar) by Joan Blesius to Francois du Toit for Rds 70 each on 5 January 1700.

Slaves from the south-west Coast of India (Malabar: Cochin)  (Madura: Tuticorin)

CLAAS van Cochin a slave aged 25/26 sold by Gerhardus Brouwer to Joris van Stralen for Rds 80 on 24 May 1690.  He was later owned by Oloff Bergh who sold him (then aged 32) on 16 September 1698 to Simon van der Stel.

CLAAS Piremaal [‘Pyramid’] van Malabar slave sold by Hendrik Willingh, merchant sailing on the Sparendam to Coenraad van Breitenbach for Rds 50 on 14 April 1672

CLAAS van Malabar a slave aged 30 sold by Hendrick Hartsz, third mate of the Cronenburg to Jan Dircx de Beer for Rds 42 on 6 January 1687.

CLAAS van Malabar a slave aged 20/21 sold (together with Antoni van Tuticorin, Aaron van Tuticorin, Philip van Malabar) by Antoni Minar, skipper of the Bantam to Jan Dircx de Beer for Rds 180 on 21 April 1688.

CLAAS van Malabar a slave aged 26/27 sold by skipper Dirk Slob to Willem ten Damme for Rds 60 on 22 May 1690.

CLAAS van Malabar (18/19) sold by William Thamsz, sailing on the English ship Royal Jacob and Mary as second mate to Matthijs Wichtman for Rds 72 on 29 May 1691.

CLAAS van Malabar a slave aged 21/22 sold by Wessel Jansz Coesen [signature Koese] to Jan Holsmit for Rds 80 of which Rds 50 was to be paid immediately and the rest in 1693. [Previously found as CLAAS van Paliacatta]

CLAAS van Malabar (aged 15) a slave sold together with Adam van Malabar, Aran van Malabar and Scipio van Malabar, his price being Rds 85 by Christiaan van Alst of the Danish vessel Christiaan Quintus to Jan Dircx de Beer on 19 January 1696.

CLAAS van Malabar (aged 20) a slave sold by Leendert van Dijl to Pieter Claas [from the Dithmarsh] for Rds 50 on 8 May 1698.

CLAAS van Malabar

He was the slave belonging to Jan Coenraad Visser from Ommen in Overijssel and his wife Margaretha Gerrits from Hardenburg.  This couple was better known as Jan Groff and Grietje Groff and were of the earliest white settlers at the Cape.  Standing with an axe in his hand, he verbally abused his scolding 82-year-old patronesse at her place at Witteboomen.  She beat him with a branch (takje) whereupon he axed her to death almost severing her head from her body.  He was sentenced to death on 21 March 1692 and broken on the wheel.

CLAAS from the Coast opposite to Ceylon [ie Madura Coast], aged 24/25 sold 4 April 1672 by Admiral Joan Barra to Rev. Adrianus de Vooght for Rds 70.

CLAAS van de Cust a slave aged 12/13 sold by William Joris, first mate of the Cronenburg to Christiaen Freser for Rds 35 on 2 January 1687.

CLAES van de Cust a slave aged 16 sold by Johannes van Engelen, bookkeeper of the Cronenburg to Jan Dircx de Beer for Rds 34 on 3 January 1687.  Claas van de Cust (17/18) a slave sold (together with Daniel van Madagascar and Isak van Madagascar) by Jan Dircx de Beer to Matthijs Michiels [from Glückstadt in Danish Holsten] for Rds 70 each on 8 September 1687.

CLAAS van de Cust (aged 20) a slave sold by Jasper de Leeuw of the Nichtevegt to Henning Hüsing for Rds 40 on 10 March 1698.

CLAAS from the Coast opposite to Ceylon [ie Madura Coast], aged 24/25 sold 4 April 1672 by Admiral Joan Barra to Rev. Adrianus de Vooght for Rds 70.

CLAAS van de Cust (aged 20) a slave sold by Jasper de Leeuw of the Nichtevegt to Henning Hüsing for Rds 40 on 10 March 1698.

CLAAS van Tuticorin (opposite Ceylon) a slave aged 15/16 sold by Marthinus van Banchem ondercoopman alhier to den vrij borger Jackie van Angola for Rds 40 on 8 March 1679.

CLAAS van Tuticorin (aged 26) a slave sold by Elsje van Suurwaerden on behalf of Grisella Mostaert to Johannes Pfeijffer on 2 July 1696.

Slaves from the East Coast of India (Coromandel, Pulicat and Trankebaer)

CLAAS from the Coromandel Coast

It is not known when he came to the Cape.  He was a slave belonging to Cornelis van Quaelbergen (who became commander at the Cape on 22 September 1666 and previously had been admiral of the return fleet of April 1658.  He was sold in June 1668 by Van Quaelbergen to his successor Jacob Borghorst who in turn sold him to the Company in March 1670.

CLAAS van Paleacatta (18/19 years old) a slave sold by Albert Cronen to Wessel Jans Croese, skipper of Goede Hoop for Rds 90 on 22 May 1690.  As Claas van Malabar a slave aged 21/22 he was sold by Wessel Jansz Coesen [signature Koese] to Jan Holsmit for Rds 80 of which Rds 50 was to be paid immediately and the rest in 1693.

CLAES van Trancquebare a slave (aged 15) sold by Andreas Frorop, captain of the Danish ship Charlotte Amelie to Pieter du Mont of Drakenstein for Rds 50 on 23 January 1699.

CLAAS from Trancquebare a slave (aged 12) sold by Adreas Frorop to Pieter Claas van Ditmarssen for Rds 50 on 23 January 1699.

Slaves from Bengal

CLAAS van Bengale (later found as Claes Kath van Bengale) (aged 20), slave sold (together with Joan van Sayoon, aged 22) by Lazarus Wiegelhuijsen to Wouter Mostaert for Rds 180 on 19 May 1674.  Claes Kath was sold by Mostaert’s wife (Hester van Lier) to Albert Barentsz [Gildenhausen] for Rds 90 on 5 April 1682.

CLAAS van Bengale, aged 11 or 12, slave boy sold by Jacob Hinlopen to Johannes Prætorius for Rds 42 on 21 February 1676.

CLAAS van Bengale, sold (together with the slave Cupido van Bengale) by the merchant Joan Putman to Hendrik Crudop for f 120.  Putman reserved to right to repurchase them should he return to the East.

CLAES van Bengale aslave sold by the free-burgher Evert van Guinea to Gerbrandt Mulder for Rds 32 on 28 January 1677.  On 29 March 1677, Gerbrandt Mulder gave power of attorney to Hermanus Downburgh / Doeijenbergh to sell Claes in Batavia.

CLAAS van Bengale slave sold by Johannes Ravensbergh to Gerrit Jansz van Wijnegom for Rds 70 on 3 March 1677.

CLAES van Bengale a slave sold by Jacob Aersse Brouwer to Teunis de Visser for Rds 58 on 15 January 1683.

CLAAS van Bengale a slave aged 27/28, sold by Egbert Kalf, skipper of the Voetboog on behalf of Cornelis Vos, widow of Hendrik Walsing to Henning Hüsing for Rds 70.

CLAAS van Bengale a slave aged 17/18 sold by Jacob van Amerongen, first mate of the Berkel to Jan Meijndertsz Cruywagen for Rds 70 on 19 May 1693.  He had a child by Christina van Trankebaar baptised in slavery Klaas on 25 December 1703 (witnessed by Jan Myndertz Kruijwagen and Catrina van Maerten).

CLAAS van Bengale a slave aged 25 sold by Andries de Man on behalf of Agate Cornelia Six, the widow of Johan Jacob Dous from Batavia to Pierre Simond for Rds 100 on 3 March 1695.

CLAAS Gerrits van Bengale a slave sold (together with Michiel van Cochin) by Andries de Man on behalf of the widow of Jacob Does [ie Agatha Cornelia Six) for Rds 100 each on 15 March 1695.

CLAAS van Bengale aged 28 a slave sold by Frans van der Stel to Carel Carelse from Batavia for Rds 105 on 18 June 1696.  Was he the same Claes baptised in slavery at the Groote Kerk on 27 January 1697? 

CLAAS van Bengale (aged 20) sold (together with Carel van Saelon) by Coenraad Warneer, skipper of the Berkenroode to Jan Wessels for Rds 80 and Rds 70 respectively on 29 June 1697.

CLAAS van Bengale a slave (aged 19) sold by Johannes van Reenen, the sick-comforter on the return ship Donkervliet to Hendrik Bouman for Rds 75 on 11 March 1698.

Slaves from Macassar

CLAES van Macassar a slave (aged 22) sold by Hendrik van den Broek, first mate of ‘t Huys te Duynen to Henning Hüsing for Rds 80 on 6 May 1695.

CLAAS van Macassar (aged 25) a slave sold by Jacob Joppe de Jongh, captain of De Swaag to Claas Loupser [ie Laubscher] for 100 enkele Spanse matten on 23 June 1696.

Slaves from Batavia

CLAAS van Batavia

He belonged to Claas van der Westhuizen.  At the age of about 30 he absconded and committed theft.  He was sentenced to be flogged and placed in chains under the watchful eye of his owner (patron) on 31 January 1737 and 2 February 1737.

CLAAS van Batavia

He belonged to Barend Gildenhuys.  At the age of about 30, he absconded and murdered the lame and defenceless Christiaan Lessing at the Hottentots-Holland (present-day Somerset West and environs).  He was sentenced on 11 May 1719 and 13 May 1719. He was broken on the wheel and his corpse put on display.

Company Slaves


Born at the Cape, he was the son of the Company slave Dorothea by an unknown father and was baptised on 21 April 1686.


Born at the Cape, he was the halfslagh son of the Company slave woman Minthi by an unknown father and was baptised as a child on 1 August 1688.

CLAES Janse van de Caep Company slave born at the Cape; baptised as an adult 16 September 1691

CLAES a slave child heelslagh baptised in March 1697 who was the son of the Company slave Cornelia.

CLAAS van de Caep

A Company slave, he absconded and was convicted for assault and theft.  He was tried and sentenced on 22 and 24 September 1718.

CLAES van Madagascar baptised as an adult Cape 20 April 1692

Slaves  (origin unknown) named CLAAS

CLAES (unknown origin) a slave sold by Philip Welcker to Gerbrandt Douwe Steijn for Rds 48 on 22 September 1679.

CLAAS (origin unspecified) a slave sold from the estate of Tobias Marquart to Jacob Aartse Brouwer for an unspecified amount on 11 July 1683.

CLAES a slave belonging to Jonkheer Frans van der Stel was baptised as an adult slave gedoopt na voorgaende belijdenis on 28 October 1696.

Freed Slaves named CLAAS


CLAAS Gerrits van Bengale – an important stamvader who is featured separately

CLAAS van Guinea / van Gene / van Genea / van Genua first appears as a free-burgher at Stellenbosch in 1692.  Hewas probably a Company slave freed for his faithful service together with 5 other retired slaves freed by the Company on 8 January 1687.[35]  He worked as knecht for the free black Louis van Bengale who farmed in the Stellenbosch district at Bengale (now part of the present-day Klein Gustrouw). He is thought to have been Muslim judging by his signature on the contract he signed with Louis van Bengale on 15 October 1687.  In return for helping to work the land, he would receive within the year ground enough for his own garden and the growing of wheat.  Depending on the duration of his stay the garden would increase in size annually and he would be fed by Louis van Bengale.  His protector, however, removed to Cape Town in July 1690 and the farm came into the possession of his neighbour Anthonie van Angola, better known as Swarte Anthony and Anthonie de Kaffer.  On 2 January 1694 Claes entered into an agreement with Jan Herfst / Herbst from Bremen whereby the latter would feed and maintain him and his concubine in exchange for Herft’s use of his garden and 6-8 oxen.  His ‘wife’ (‘wives’?) is (are) recorded as Hoen van Guinea and/or Anna van Guinea.  He died in 1709.  He appears to have been childless but cannot be ruled out as possibly being the biological father to the notorious freed slave and criminal Lysbeth Sanders (1659-c.1742/3) who was a formidable stammoeder in her own right to many South Africans.[36]

1692, 1693 and 1695

CLAAS van Bengale slave manumitted on 20 October 1692 by Albert Coopman on condition that he gives faithful service up to 1 July 1694.  This deed was cancelled on 29 April 1693 because Claas behaved badly.  On 29 April 1693, CLAAS van Bengale aged 30 was again manumitted by Albert Coopman on condition that he would serve him until 1 July 1694.  If he did not behave well in the interim, he would be sold to Hendrik Bouman for f 400.  He appears to be the same person as CLAAS van Bengale a slave who was sold by Cornelis Wobma to Andries de Man for Rds 45 on 2 January 1679.  He was sold on 13 December 1692 by Andries de Man to Hendrik Bouman for Rds 100.  On 15 September 1695 Hendrik Bouman manumitted him on payment of f 500.  CLAAS van Bengale is listed in the muster roll for 1692 as single male free-burgher in Opgaaf Rol with 1 flintlock and 1 dagger.  He is last listed as CLAAS BRAM in the muster roll for 1695 (no. 284) again alone.[37]


CLAES van Bengale / CLAAS BRAND a slave (aged 28) is liberated on 31 March 1695 by Borchart Brant (signature Borgart Brant), burgher in Cape Town before Brant’s return to Europe.   He appears to be the CLAES van Bengale who fathered a child by Cecilia van Macassar (a former Company slave) (later found as Cecilia van Timor and Cecilia van Ternaten) baptised Flora on 29 May 1695.  They appear in the muster for 1695 (no. 286) as the head of a household of 1 man, 1 wife (unnamed) and 1 son [sic].  They appear again in the muster rolls for 1696 and 1697 as CLAAS BRAND and Cecilia van Ternaten[38]Thereafter, there is no further mention of this family in the muster.  Did they leave the Cape?


CLAAS Caste slave sold by Governor Johan Bax to Alexander Blanck for Rds 95 on 8 July 1676.  Alexander Blanck manumitted CLAAS Casta (aged 36) on 10 May 1696.  He does not appear in any of the muster rolls immediately hereafter.[39]


CLAAS van Macassar.   He appears as a free man at Drakenstein in the muster for the year 1696.[40]  If not a freed slave, he may have arrived at the Cape as a free man being one of the political dissidents exiled by the Dutch from Macassar. On 25 March 1698 the Free Black Claas van Macassar bought the slave Lijsbeth van Macassar (aged 20/21) from Gerrit Vieroot for Rds 100.  Could he be the same person as CLAAS van Malabar?


CLAAS van Coromandel a slave (aged 26) who was freed by Joan Loockeman, skipper of the Overnes for an unspecified sum on 18 March 1700.



He first appears in the muster in 1702 (no. 592). He was a free fisherman and is enumerated as being single with no children in the successive musters for 1705 (no. 226), 1709 (no. 610), 1712 (no. 304), 1716 (no. 315), 1719 (no. 351) owning 1 adult male slave, 1 flintlock and 1 rapier, 1721 (no. 351), 1724 (no. 386), 1725 (no. 369) and 1731 (no. 419).  He is not mentioned in the muster for 1735.


CLAAS van Malabar father of Johannes CLAASEN

Free black at Drakenstein – an important stamvader who is featured separately.

Cape-born former slaves named CLAAS

CLAES van Coninghshoven alias Claas Koningshoven

He was the son of the halfslagh Company slave Jannetje Bord van de Caeb by Dirck van Coninghshoven from Utrecht and was baptised on 2O May 1685.  He was manumitted and legitimised in terms of his parents’ marriage on 22 December 1868 and was one of the free fisherman who signed a petition in favour of governor Willem Adriaan van der Stel.

CLAES Cornelisz van de Caab

Born a Company slave at the Cape of Good Hope and being halfslagh, he was entitled to his freedom at the age of 25His European father was probably one Cornelis (surname unknown).  His baptism has not been found.[41]  He was brother to Armosijn CLAES van de Caeb who has been dealt with below.  He was appointed schoolmaster to the Company’s slave children on 15 September 1687.  He was confirmed and became a member of the church on 21 December 1689.  Once manumitted, he married on 9 July 1690 the freed slave and former matron (matres) of the Company’s Slave Lodge Beatrice van Cochin.  Their marriage was childless.  Possibly he fathered an illegitimate child by the free black woman Susanna Leendertsz baptised Elisabeth on 15 September 1711.    Nevertheless, he and his wife were prominent free citizens. On 12 August 1701 he was granted a substantial erf situated on Church Square opposite the Groote Kerk. and diagonally opposite the Slave Lodge.  This effectively made him the first Cape-born mestizzo to be granted a title deed.  He was deceased towards the end of 1709.

The Khoe / San adopt the name CLAAS thus the name becomes a permanent feature of the Cape landscape

The European impact on the Cape of Good Hope would soon manifest itself even in terms of the name CLAAS becoming native to the indigenous peoples of the Cape – the Quena and the Sonqua (termed ‘Hottentots’ and ‘Bushman’ by their colonisers and Khoisan by modern academics). The name CLAAS appears to have been a popular name given by the Dutch to local indigenes with whom they came to interact on various levels of the colonisation process.


His indigenous Khoe name was Khonomao / Khonamoa Namtesij or just Nomtesij.  He was described by the Dutch as being a big, strong fellow .and brother to one named Arre.  He was the son of the famous Goringhaicona (‘Strandloper’)chieftain Autshumao (called Harry by the English and Herrij by the Dutch).  According to Harry’s niece the interpreter Krotoa (the famous Eva Meerhoff), he killed the VOC shepherd David which was one of the causes of the First Dutch/Khoe/San war. According to the interpreter Doman, however, this was done together with Boubo (alias Sijmon) and Jan Cou.

CLAES Das alias Khaikana Makoukoa / Khaik Ana Ma Koukoa

He served as interpreter for the Dutch during the initial stage of VOC colonisation of the Cape of Good Hope.  His name Das is thought to derive from Dassen Island which island he visited with the Dutch.

Capteyn CLAAS / KLAAS [DORLA / DORHA] c. 1640-1701

He was the famous Chainouqua chief who collaborated with the Dutch during the time of Simon van der Stel but whom the Dutch were quick to dump when they realised that he was no longer of any use to them.[42]


A Hottentot aged about 20, who lived at the place of Jacobus Botha called Kady.  He murdered his own wife by stabbing her and also shot dead one other Hottentot woman.  He was caught by other Hottentots  and punished on 22 July and 7 August 1751.


A Hottentot aged about 25 living at the place of Hermanus Scholtz in the Roggeveld.  He hit his wife with a kierie and killed her after she had also killed their one-year child in the same way.  He was tried on 7 October 1793 and 9 November 1793.  He was sentenced to be flogged and banished in chains for life to Robben Island.


A Hottentot about 30 years old in the service of Jan Blignaut in the Roggeveld.  Accused of removing cattle from the Roggeveld to Paarl where he often stole wine, he was sentenced to be flogged on 29 March 1798 and 12 May 1798.

Women named CLAAS

Anna Maria CLAAS from Copenhagen, Sjælland, Denmark.  She married at Cape Town on 8 March 1705 Andries Albert from Copenhagen.  Their marriage entry reads as follows:

Andries Albert van Coppenhagen jongman met Anna Maria Claas van Coppenhagen

Alida CLAASEN from Ameyde, alias Aeltje Claesje van Anroijde and Aaltjen Klaasdr. van Armeijde[43].  This important stammoeder was married to Adriaan Gerrits Prinsloo from Tergouw (Gouda). Aeltie van Termyde van Bodegrave, weduwe van Arij Gerritz married (secondly) on 14 December 1698 Laurens Heyns, jongman van Tergouw.

Armosyn CLAESZ van de Caab

She is found variously as:

 Armosij, Armosijn van de Caep, Armosijn Claas, Armosijn Claesz, Armosijn Claasse van de Caab, Armosy, Armozijn van de Caab, Cleijn Armosijn, Harmosij, and de cleine Klein Armosi

She was born at the Cape of Good Hope in the VOC’s Slave Lodge in c. 1659 (or c. 1661).  She was most likely heelslagh being the daughter of an unknown slave mother (possibly from Angola or Guinea) and a slave father named CLAES.  She was sister to the halfslagh Cape-born Company slave, later slave schoolmaster and finally free-burgher CLAES Cornelisz van de Caab (see above). In 1661 there was an exceptionally high mortality rate amongst the Company’s slaves from West Africa.  It is conceivable that Armosijn Claesz and her brother were orphaned at this time as no evidence has come to light concerning their mother’s identity.  If not already of Asian extraction, despite their African make-up they would soon be indianised whilst growing up in the Slave Lodge. A Company slave, she succeeded her brother’s wife Maaij Beatrice in the important position of matron (matres) of the Company’s Slave Lodge – a position which in turn was held by her own daughter Manda Gratia. Baptised as an adult on 23 February 1687, Armosijn was eventually manumitted by the governor Willem Adriaan van der Stel for her faithful services (c. 1708).  She was granted an erf in Cape Town in June 1708.  Thus she became the 3rd free black women to be granted a title deed at the Cape. She never married but had several children by various European and non-European fathers.  How she went about systematically making provision for the manumission (this had to be purchased) of her numerous children and grandchildren considering the odds stacked against her; her astute handling of her landed property, her numerous detailed testamentary bequests, her sacrifices and attempts to rise above her situation – all make for an exceptional, remarkable and vital personality.  She died in 1733.  She had a vast progeny many of whom (eg the Jonas and Combrink families and the famous Machtelt Smit) were taken up into the white community.  Her children and grandchildren were:

b1           Frans baptised 15 August 1677; died in infancy

b2           Ma(e)nda Gratia baptised 19 November 1679

                matron of the Slave Lodge; freed 1711; died 1719

                married 27 October 1715 Guillaume Frisnet from Bergen op Zoom, widower of Groote Armozijn van de Caeb

c1            Johannes / Jan Smesing / Smiesing / Smeedige halfslagh

                        baptised 6 March 1697; manumitted c. 1731; died 1734

married 30 December 1731 Anna (van) Dapoer van de Caap

                She married (2ndly) and divorced Carl Matthias Meuring

c2            Frans van Leeuwen halfslagh baptised 27 March 1701; freed;  joined the VOC as a sailor; died unmarried (no issue) on the ship Koning Carel May 1721 en route to Batavia

c3            Pieter Cornelis van Leeuwen halfslagh baptised 26 September 1706; died in slavery sometime between 1728 and 1733

c4            Margaretha Geertruy Frisnet  halfslaghbaptised 18 February 1714; still alive in 1728

c5            Willem Frisnet baptised 2 July 1716; died in infancy

c6            Willem Frisnet baptised 12 August 1717

b3           Maria Stuart  heelslagh(baptism not found)

A Company slave, at the request of her mother she was freed conditionally on 3 and 7 April 1711 and allowed to accompany a VOC official’s wife to the Netherlands

c1            Maria Francina Cleef halfslaghbaptised 14 July 1708; freed 1720

                                married (1) 14 August 1729 Pieter Ysveld

                                married (2) 16 March 1731 Heinrich Hesse from Mulheim

c2            Absolom Barend Cleef born between 1710 and 1714

                                Company slave; absconded 1732

b4           Johannes baptised 8 September 1686

b5           Claas Jonasz d’Oude baptised 1 August 1688; freed

                married 11 March 1725 Dina van Bima, a former slave of Willem Adriaan van der Stel (died 19 July 1782)

                c1            Jonas Jonasz baptised 21 May 1702; died in infancy

c2            Armosyn Jonasz (Armosina) baptised 9 December 1703; died 13 March 1781

                                married 22 April 1725

Christiaan Wynants van de Cust (1684-1757); no issue

c3            Claas Jonasz de Jongeborn c. 1705

                                married 12 July 1733 Anna Maria Brits (1694-c. 1733), widow of Hermanus Gerrits (d/o Hans Jacob Brits from Stein and Dina Ockerse / Willemse)

                c4            Anna Elisabeth born c. 1707/8; died 1733

                                married 24 July 1729 Jan Joosten from Gahlen

                                He married (2) Margaretha Swaap van de Caab

c5            Maria Jonasz baptised 22 January 1713; died in infancy

c6            Willem Jonasz baptised Cape 21 April 1717; died in infancy

c7            Elisabeth baptised Liesbeth baptised Cape 5 December 1717; deceased by 1761 unmarried

                c8            Helena Jonasz baptised Cape 31 March 1720

                                married 12 February 1756 Claas Coort / Coert / Koorts alias Nicolaas Guertsz

b6           Anna baptised 7 September 1692; died in infancy

b7           Machteld halfslagh baptised 26 August 1697; freed; died 1738

                married 14 April 1720 Hermanus Combrink from Bieleveld

c1            Christina Armosyn baptised 13 October 1720; died young

                c2            Jan Hendrik Combrink baptised 9 August 1722

                                married 26 July 1744 Maria Magdalena van Deventer (daughter of Jan van Deventer and Magdalena Brits)

She married (2) 22 May 1756 Burchard Rugner from Grosslangheim

c3            Johanna Elisabet Combrink baptised26 November 1724;

                                married Wilhelm Ackerman from Stockholm

                                She accompanied her husband to Europe in 1750

                c4            Hermanus Combrink baptised 5 January 1727

                                married Johanna Nel

                c5            Maria Magdalena Combrink baptised 6 March 1729

                                married Nicolaas Frans Albert from Hamburg            

                c6            Michiel Combrink baptised 8 June 1731

                                married Dorothea Grobbelaar

c7            Johanna Hendrika Combrink baptised 8 November 1733

                                married Nicolaas Grobbelaar

                c8            Jan Frederick Combrink baptised 10 June 1736

                c9            Jacobus Combrink baptised 9 March 1738; died 1738

Catharina Claasz alias Catharina Ras[44]  (daughter of Nicolaas Ras and Maria van Staden).  She appears as Catharina Clase as a witness to the baptism of an unnamed child of een swartin Chaterina at Drakenstein on 28 November 1706.

She married Warnar van den Brink (son of Barend van den Brink and Jannetje van Heyningen)[45]

Leonora CLAASEN van de Caep married 1733 Bartolomeus Schonken from the Netherlands

Maria / Maritje CLAAS(Z) alias Maria Claasz van Boogart.  She was the wife of Frans Jillisz de Bruijn.  They were at the Cape 1673-1675 but repatriated thereafter.

Margaretha CLAAS Coen / Coenie / Coerie.  This important stammoeder arrived with her husband Johannes Swart from Hoorn in the Netherlands.


  • Böeseken, Anna J.: Dagregister en Briewe van Zacharias Wagenaer 1662-1666 (Staatsdrukker, Pretoria 1973).
  • Böeseken, Anna J.: Memoriën en Instructiën 1657-1699 (Suid-Afrikaanse Argiefstukke – Belangrike Kaapse Dokumente Deel I, Staatsdrukker, Kaapstad 1966).
  • Böeseken, Anna J.: Uit die Raad van Justisie, 1652-1672 (Staatsdrukker, Pretoria 1986).
  • Böeseken, Anna J.: Resolusies van die Politieke Raad, Dele 1-3 (S.A. Argiefstukke, Die Staatsdrukker, Kaapstad 1957).
  • Böeseken, Anna J.:  Jan van Riebeeck en sy gesin
  • Böeseken, Anna J.: Simon van der Stel en sy kinders (Kaapstad 1964).
  • Böeseken, Anna J.: Slaves and Free Blacks (Tafelberg, Cape Town 1977).
  • Boonzaier, Emile; Malherbe, Candy; Berens, Penny and Smith, Andy:  The Cape Herders:  A History of the Khoikhoi of Southern Africa (David Philip, Cape Town 1996).
  • Cairns, Margaret:  ‘Armosyn Claasz of the Cape and her Family, 1661-1783, Familia (Quarterly Journal of the Genealogical Society of South Africa) XVI, no. 4 (1979), pp. 84-89 and 92-99.
  • Fouché, Leo: The Diary of Adam Tas 1705-1706 (Van Riebeeck Society, Cape Town 1970).
  • Hattingh, J. Leon:  ‘Die Blanke nageslag van Louis van Bengale en Lijsbeth van die Kaap’, Kronos,  vol. 3 (1980), pp. 5-51.
  • Hattingh, J. Leon: Die Eerste Vryswartes van Stellenbosch 1679-1720 (Institute for Historical Research, University of the Western Cape, Bellville 1981).
  • Hattingh, J. Leon: ‘Grondbesit in die Tafelvallei.  Deel I – Die eksperiment: grondbesit van Vryswartes’, Kronos Journal of Cape History, vol. 10 (1985), pp. 32-48.
  • Hattingh, J. Leon: ‘Kaapse Notariële Stukke waarin Slawe van Vryburgers en Amptenare vermeld word (1658-1730)’ Deel I, Kronos Journal of Cape History, vol. 14 (1988), pp. 43-7).
  • Heese, Hans F.:  Muster Rolls (unpublished).
  • Heese, Hans F.: Reg en Onreg:  Kaapse Regspraak in die Agtiende Eeu (C-Reeks:  Navorsingspublikasies, no. 6, Instituut vir Historiese Navorsing, Universiteit van Wes-Kaapland, Bellville 1994).
  • Heese, J.A. and Lombard, R.T.J.: South African Genealogies / Suid-Afrikaanse Geslagregisters (Human Sciences Research Council, Pretoria 1986), vols. 1-4 (Genealogical Institute of South Africa 1999), vol. 5.
  • Hoge, J.: Personalia of the Germans at the Cape 1652-1806 Archives Year Book for South African History / Argief-jaarboek vir Suid-Afrikaanse Geskiedenis (Government Printer, Cape Town 1946).
  • Jeffreys, M. K.: Kaapse Plakkaatboek 1652-1707, Deel I (Kaapse Argiefstukke, Cape Times Limited, Kaapstad 1944).
  • Leibbrandt, H.C.V: Précis of the Archives of the Cape of Good Hope: Journals, Letters and Documents Received, Letters Despatched from the Cape, Memorials or Requesten (W.A. Richards and Sons, Cape Town 1900).
  • Linder, Adolphe: The Swiss at the Cape of Good Hope 1652-1971 (Basler Afrika Bibliographien, Basel 1997).
  • Louw, Jannie and Malan, Lalie: The Louws of Louwvliet and their neighbours 1659/60-1724 (A.A. Balkema, Cape Town 1984).
  • van Rensburg, André M.: ‘The Jigsaw Puzzle:  Isabella van Angola, Cornelis Claasen and Armosyn’, Capensis Quarterly Journal of the Genealogical Society of South Africa (Cape of Good Hope Branch) no. 2 of 2000.
  • Rosenthal, Eric: Cape Directory 1800 (C. Struik, Cape Town 1969).
  • Schoeman, Karel:  ‘Kaapse Stamouers: Die Voorsate van Machtelt Smith 1661-1749’, Kronos Journal of Cape History, no. 23 November 1996, pp. 36-42).
  • Smuts, P.J.: Die Smuts-Familie van die Swartland (privately published).
  • Thom, H.B.: Journal of Jan van Riebeeck (A.A. Balkema, Cape Town 1954).
  • Upham, M.G.: ‘Armosyn Revisited’, Capensis Quarterly Journal of the Genealogical Society of South Africa (Cape of Good Hope Branch), no. 2 of 2000.
  • de Villiers, C.C. and Pama, C.:  Genealogies of Old South African Families (A.A. Balkema, Cape Town 1966).
  • de Wet, G. C.:  Die Vryliede en Vryswartes in die Kaapse Nedersetting 1657-1707 (Die Historiese Publikasie-Vereniging, Kaapstad 1981).
  • Winquist, Alan H.: Scandinavians and South Africa: Their impact on the cultural, social and economic development of pre-1902 South Africa (A.A. Balkema, Cape Town 1978).

[1] Holtrop, Johannes: Nieuw Nederduitsch en Engelsch Woorden-Boek – Agter-aan zijn gevoegd:  Naamlijsten der Doopnamen, zoo van Mannen als Vrouwen…(A. Blussé en Zoon and W. Holtrop Dordrecht 1801).

[2] All the major primary and archival sources have been searched.  These include the various archives of the Court of Justice (CJ), the Master of the Orphan Chamber (MOOC), the Council of Policy (C), the Landdrost and Heemraeden of Stellenbosch (1/STB), the Verbatim Copies (VC), the Receiver of Land Revenue (RLR), the Muster Rolls (J) and the Dutch Reformed Church baptismal, marriage and membership registers.

[3]  The case is reported verbatim in Böeseken, Uit die Raad van Justisie , pp. 38-39.

[4] Van Riebeeck’s Journal (VRJ), vol. II, p. 48.

[5] VRJ II 150.

[6] VRJ III 340, 342, 358.

[7] VRJ II 21.

[8] VRJ II (3 July 1657) 127.

[9] See also Resolusies van die Politieke Raad (RPR), dated 3 July 1657.

[10] He does not appear in the muster rolls for 20 March 1656 and 31 May 1657.

[11] VRJ III 60.

[12] Hoge in his Personalia (p. 180) incorrectly gives 1670 [sic].

[13] [VRJ III 61 and 61 f.].

[14]  Langerak – these are places in both South Holland and Gelderland.

[15] Muster Rolls  (Free Burghers) VC 39.

[16] Journal 8 October 1661 (Muster Roll for free-burghers 1670).

[17]  VOC 4017 (Opgaaf 1682), no. 90.

[18] VC 39.

[19] CJ 725 no. 59.

[20] Journal (Zacharias Wagenaer) (ZWJ), p.  176, n. 214

[21] VC 39, P. 19

[22] ZWJ 96 (18 September 1663)

[23]  Böeseken equates him incorrectly with Kees de Boer [URJ p. 159 n. 501  xxix,  no. 165]:  4.11.1665 Cornelis Claasz van Nieucoop; diefstal en drostery on Mauritius; tien jaar sonder gasie of dagloon op Robbeneiland of elders [CJ 1, p. 294; CJ 780 nos. 64 and 65, pp. 181-185].  See also ZWJ 226 and 226, n. 195, 366 and 366, n. 15 and C 494 (2), pp. 826-1033.

[24]  ZWJ 245 (18 February 1666).

[25] Ie Nordhorn in Westphalia in Germany.

[26] CJ 1, pp. 769-770.

[27] J. Hoge, Personalia 74.  CJ 2646,  no. 102.

[28] This family has been omitted in Heese/Lombard. According to de Villiers/Pama, they had 2 sons: Claas and Gerrit.  This could not be substantiated.

[29] He is not mentioned in Hoge’s Personalia.

[30] De Wet in his book Die Vryliede en Vryswartes in die Kaapse Nedersetting confuses him with Cornelis Claesz from Utrecht.

[31] Known in English as Elsinore, the setting of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

[32] C. 217:825 (1794).

[33] Cape Directory 1800, p. 115.

[34] Anna Böeseken incorrectly refers to them as being from Bengal.

[35] Although there is no mention of any Claes van Guinea, he may well be the slave mentioned as Leidsare in the resolution.

[36] See Leon Hattingh’s genealogy in Kronos No. 3 of 1980 entitled ‘Die Blanke nageslag van Louis van Bengale en Lijsbeth van die Kaap’.

[37] I am indebted to Lorna Newcomb for this information.

[38] I am indebted to Lorna Newcomb for this information.

[39] Note:  he is not the same person as Claas Claasz [sic] who is listed as a single man in the muster roll for 1705 (no. 116).  This is Claas van Coningshoven, the voorzoon of Jannetje Bort. 

[40] VC 39.  He appears together with other former slaves (or political exiles?) from Macassar:  Jacob, Isaak and Jan.  I am indebted to Lorna Newcomb for drawing my attention to his existence.

[41] Not all Company slave baptismal records have been preserved.

[42] See H.C. Bredekamp:  ‘Die Lewe van ‘n Khoikhoi-Kaptein Dorha alias Klaas 1669-1701’, Kronos Vol. 4 1981, pp. 10-23, Suid-Afrikaanse Biografiese Woordeboek (SABW) III 482-483 and The Cape Herders p. 78.

[43] CA: MOOC 8/2 no. 4.

[44] She has been omitted in the Ras genealogy in De Villiers/Pama.  She left a will 1/STB 18/2 No 23 (1705).

[45] The Van den Brink family has been omitted in both De Villiers/Pama and Heese/Lombard.



by Mansell G. Upham (2010)

Recently the following question was put to me:  “What is the current thinking concerning Pieter Erasmus and whether he was Danish or Dutch?” 

I am not sure if there is any.  The question implies possibly that if more people think the same, then perhaps a majority view will determine the truth of his ‘ethnicity’ … but then we might heed the Norwegian playwright and anarchic philosopher Henrik Ibsen’s remark that “the majority is always wrong” …

Henrik Ibsen (20 March 1828 – 23 May 1906)

There are at least two schools of thought and until further unequivocal documentary evidence comes to light, perhaps these two schools of thought will persist.  I personally, do not think that these two schools of thought are necessarily mutually exclusive – also given a Western (Carl Linnaeus-driven? – a Swede …) convention of labelling and categorizing each and everything and opting for ‘black or white’, ‘gay or straight’ with no place for ‘grey’ (‘brown’?) or ‘bisexual’ or whatever:

1.  The Cape was a VOC colony peopled by Khoe / San indigenes, slaves from further afield in Africa and Asia and, as far as the European contingent goes, predominantly Dutch officials and North German, Frisian and Scandinavian underlings all hailing from the lowlands or netherlands of Northern Europe. 

2. The lowlands or netherlands geographically and culturally span Flanders in France and the present Kingdom of Belgium right up to Jutland in Denmark.  The present ‘Kingdom of the Netherlands in effect is a kind of misnomer (as is ‘Holland’ for the whole country) as it forms only a tiny part of a wider lowland culture and the present Dutch are effectively Low Germans.  Actually, when one thinks about it, it is not a particularly good name for a country or nation-state – but then the same applies to so many others, too … 

3.  The history of the Dutch, Germans, Frisians, Danes and Norwegians overlap. Only in recent times have Flemings, Dutch, Frisians, Germans, Danes and Norwegians regarded themselves as being politically, culturally and linguistically exclusive.  In fact the word ‘Dutch’ is just another form of the word ‘Deutch’ and this is reflected in the current Dutch national anthem in which the Prince of Orange identifies himself as a being of ‘Duijchen bloet’.  Had Martin Luther not succeeded in getting High German (with its artificially imposed Latin grammar) to dominate in the Reformation, then the whole of Germany, Austria and parts of Switzerland and Italy would all be speaking Low German or ‘German proper’ (as I like to call it …) without any Latin contamination in terms of grammatical structure.

4.  People of Lowland extraction were particularly active throughout Scandinavia especially during the years when the Hanseatic League dominated the economic scene.  They were aided and abetted for a time by the Roman Catholic Church which made it obligatory to eat fish for more than one day of the week (until it was reduced to Fridays only) thereby enriching the Baltic city states.  This means that Denmark and Norway under Christian IV (whose daughter married the son of Mary, Queen of Scots and successor to Good Queen Bess, James I, in Oslo), for example, were happy to allow people from the South (current Netherlands and Belgium) to settle in major ports such as Copenhagen or Bergen where there were ‘Dutch’ communities of merchants, traders, engineers, fishermen etc and all settled there for long periods of time even to the extent of settling and intermarrying/interbreeding with locals.  It also meant that the VOC could tap into this existing network and employ Scandinavians and North Germans to man their ships and colonies in the East.

5.  This is not to say that the Scandinavians had not already evolved more distinctly than their German neighbours and Dutch visitors.  At the Cape the Dutch were quick to distinguish Scandinavians as Danes (eg ‘den Deen’) or ‘de Noorman’ (ie ‘the Northman’ – meaning Norwegian) and I have encountered several examples during the early part of Dutch colonial period at the Cape.

6. So, what about Pieter Erasmus?

6.1 First of all, the name Erasmus … this latter-day Latinized form stuck with the man once he settled at the Cape.  There could be a number of reasons:  it was common for educated (read people schooled in Latin) to Latinize their names and the famous Humanist Erasmus is a case in point with the important caveat that he was more likely to be a singular celibate (hopefully?) example and that there does not seem to be a tangible collection or clusters of Erasmus families in the present-day Netherlands …  The more modern Dutch form of the name Erasmus is Gerrit or Gerhard/us which immediately brings you closer to the more modern German name – we have both in Afrikaans.  For some reason or other the name Erasmus took root with Danes and Norwegians as a very popular boy’s name – but in its contracted form: Rasmus.  It may just be that recorders at the Cape were less familiar with the Scandinavian form of the name and better acquainted when writing in Dutch with the more formal Erasmus-form, also because of the widespread fame of Erasmus himself … who knows, really? …

6.2 Pieter Erasmus, by process of elimination in the census rolls at the Cape, appears once as ‘Pieter den Deen’ – ie Peter the Dane.  Careful scrutiny of preceding and successive census rolls reveals that this can only be him unless for one year only a Danish man appeared out of nowhere – highly unlikely and nowhere corroborated … this was a nickname of sorts as the record keepers clearly knew him well enough to record him as such and being a Dane could single him out amongst all the other non-Danes at the time.

6.3 Pieter Erasmus baptized his eldest son Rasmus – this is a clear give away that the family hailed from Denmark or Norway.  Also his brother-in-law hailed from Sweden which confirms the power of soort-soek-soort or ‘birds of a feather, flocking together’ in old Cape families …

6.4 The Erasmus family in SA were never – at least at the Cape initially – of the educated Latinized sort like the Gouda-born Humanist Erasmus

Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (28 October 1466 – 12 July 1536) Portrait of Erasmus of Rotterdam (1523) by Hans Holbein the Younger

6.5 It is well established by now that most Dutch settlers at the Cape brought out wives or at least were able to tap into a pool of Europeans when taking wives whereas the majority of Scandinavians and Germans at the Cape were less advantaged (in more ways than one) and many had to settle for Cape-born (usually of mixed race) women as companions – legally or illicitly.  Pieter Erasmus fits the profile of a Scandinavian who took a wife of exiled Asian, slave or free-black origin.

7.  Finally, of the two schools mentioned above … one is more inclined to ‘wishful linking’ in terms of status and respectability and regrettably attracts especially Erasmus surname-bearing descendants more than the Scandinavian school … a not too un-understandable predilection for many genealogists (especially of the antiquarian ilk) who vainly (pun certainly intended) seek vicarious vainglory through their antecedents.

 I, too, descend from Pieter Erasmus, known as Pieter den Deen … and from the above, it almost seems neither here nor there or important really whether he was actually Dutch or Danish … the name of his son, Lars, is yet another tell-tale sign that the Cape’s Erasmus forefather was more likely to be Danish than Dutch. 

The comments above confirm that I am fairly satisfied that Pieter den Deen would have been a Dane and more properly called Peter Rasmussen and are a knee-jerk reaction to an article that appeared in the journal Familia by Ds. Erasmus some years back and the dom-astrant non-lateral thinking/attitude of some Afrikaans-speaking Erasmusses (Erasmi?) which still exasperates me and forces one to have to re-invent the wheel again and again.  Perhaps a good thing, in retrospect, so that we can revisit our research and be more certain …  I am having a similar ‘ethnic cleansing’ fracas with the Myburgh Familiebond who persist with their claims to being originally Dutch when the documentary evidence at the Cape is quite unequivocal that the founding father was Norwegian … another Ragnarøk or Ragnarök moment … 

It’s not that I want everyone to be Scandinavian … actually, I consider myself to be a ‘closet Dane’ – and for numerous reasons including descent – notwithstanding my Anglo-Saxon surname. This recent query consequently roused me from my Holger den Dansk-esque slumber which is good and has forced me to apply my mind to addressing the origins of Mrs Erasmus knowing that there are people out there that care to know (see my primary research on the exile Pai Timor and his family). 

Nonje Francina – Simon van der Stel’s Adopted Housekeeper …

by Mansell Upham

On 8 July 1685 a most extraodinary event takes place at the Cape of Good Hope.  The 4-year-old Cape-born heelslag[1][Asiafrican] vrije dogter [‘free girl’] – later known as Nonje Francina or Francina Grutting (1681-1713) – is specially singled out for holy baptism:[2]

The 8th of July [1685][is baptized] Francina-Helena

the mother Volandien a Malagasy slave woman, and the father Steven ‘Five Paces’ [Cinque Pas][3] soldier

den 8 Julii [1685] Francina-Helena
den moeder Volandien een Malagasies slavyn, en de vader Steven Sinke-Pas soldaet

The witnesses to her baptism are recorded thus:

The Esteemed Lord van Rede[4] in his honourable place stood the Honourable Lord Martheng[5], the Honourable Commander van der Stel[6], Lady Rede[7]  and Lady Breugel[8]  …

Malagasy slave women [Thomas Baines (27 November 1820 – 8 May 1875)]

The baptism by Ds. Johannes Overnay is in response to the reform measures introduced by visiting VOC High Commissioner Hendrik Adriaan, Baron van Reede / Rheede tot Drake(n)stein, Heer van Mijdrecht (Amsterdam, 13 April 1636 – at sea 15 December 1691).[9] 

Company-owned heelslag infants – previously denied infant baptism unlike their halfslag contemporaries (even if half-siblings) – are no longer to be denied baptism as had been the convention since the establishment (1652) of the colony.[10]  Company-owned halfslag slave children – still found unbaptised (of which quite a few had been discovered) – are now also to be prepared for baptism to which they had been entitled but previously overlooked or denied. 

More importantly, the High Commissioner had finally provided legal clarity on the whole issue of eventual liberation on the part of all Company owned slaves and an example to private slave owners to hopefully follow suit, even if only morally.

Nonje Francina’s baptism is consequently the very first baptism of a private (non-Company owned) heelslag slave child at the Cape of Good Hope to initiate and reflect the Baron’s newly instituted more enlightened and humane policy on slavery.

In keeping with the occasion’s solemnity – also its novelty – the ceremony is witnessed by the (also visiting) High Commissioner’s personal representative and closest of friends – like him, an inveterate bachelor: Isaac de l’Ostal / Lostal de Saint-Martin (c. 1629-14 April 1696) – VOC Councillor Major-General and Commander-in-Chief of all the armies of the Company in the Indies. 

Isaac de l’Ostal / Lostal de Saint-Martin (c. 1629-14 April 1696)

More significantly, the font is also graced by the presence of the High Commissioner’s own slave-born, but freed and adopted, mesties daughter and personal attendant Francina van Reede / Rheede, after whom the newly christened commander’s personal slave child is named. 

Simon van der Stel (14 October 1639-24 June 1712), Heer van Lisse [attributed]

In addition to this auspicious company, the special occasion is also charged by the attendance of the singular Simon van der Stel (14 October 1639-24 June 1712), Heer van Lisse – the colony’s maritally (also geographically) estranged Eurasian commander (later governor) together with the Cape-born wife of the junior merchant and fiscal (prosecuting officer) Albert Jansz: van Breugel / Breughel, Elsje van Zuerwarden / Suurwaerden (1662 -1713?).

The baptized girl, as gubernatorial protégée, comes to grow up in the patronesse-less (albeit not necessarily mistress-less) Van der Stel household; as do her two half-brothers, the Cape-born free-blacks Hendrik Albertsz: [aka Hendrik Constant van Macassar] and Johannes (Jan) Claasz: van Mallabaar [Malabar].[11]

Together with her patron – and representing, as well as embodying, the Africanness of the moment – she witnesses (7 April 1697) the baptism of Michiel Africanus, son of the free-burgher and pachter (privileged licensee) Paul Heins (from Leipzig) and his manumitted (former Company slave) Cape-born Eurafrican wife Maria Schalk: by standing in as godmother to their infant son:[12]

Gedoopt het kint van Paulus Heijns en Maria Schalck onder getuijgen van de Wel Ed:[ele] Heer Goewerneur  S:[imon] van der Stel en Nonje Fransina genaamt Michiel Africanus.

She acts as godmother again (30 June 1709) and recorded as de Vrije Francijntje , this time to her niece the infant Helena Barbara, daughter of her half-brother Hendrik Constant / Constantie by his natural wife Lena Felix: van Macassar:

een slave-kind van den out-gouverneur Simon van der Stel, de ouders waren Hendrik Constant van Macasser en Lena Felix van Macasser; de getuige was de Vrije FrancijntjeHelena Barbara

Following the death of her protector – her patron and paterfamilias – she inherits (1712) the considerable sum of 3000 guilders from her master’s deceased estate, half of all his “body linen, as well as a bed and its equipment”.  Subsequent to his will (signed 1 March 1712), Simon van der Stel leaves the following legacy in her favour, as follows:[13]

…. Verclaare ik ondergeschreeve, Simon van der Stel, hoe dat ik om sonderlinge reedenen mij daar toe moveerende bij gifte uijt zaake des doods gegeeven heb, gelijk ik geeve bij deesen aan Francina Grutting van de Caab de Goede Hoop, vrije dogter, zijnde van haar geboorte bi mijn opgevoet, een somme van 3000 guldens Indische valuatie, de helfte van alle mijne gemaakte lijwaten[14], benewens een bed met sijn toebehooren.

She, herself, dies at the time of the smallpox epidemic (1713) at Parel Vallei, Hottentots-Holland [present-day Somerset West] – the home of her former master’s son Jonkheer Frans van der Stel – recalled to the Netherlands (1707) but still maintained by his wife the Cape-born Johanna Wessels.[15]  Both an inventory of her personal belongings as well as a Vendu Rol (list of items sold in execution or public auction of property belonging to a deceased estate) – together with some miscellaneous deceased estate papers, have survived.[16]

Parel Vallei Homestead at the Hottentots-Holland – present-day Somerset West [Cape Archives: Elliott Collection]

[1] At the Cape the terms heelslag (‘full caste’) and half-slag (‘half-caste’) were used as legal terms regulating a slave’s rights to legally provisioned eventual manumission.

[2] den 8 Julii [1685] Francina-Helena
den moeder Volandien een Malagasies slavyn. en de vader Steven Sinke-Pas soldaet

de Agtbare Heer van Rede in syn E.[dele] plaets stont de Ed.[ele] Heer Martheng  de Ed.[ele] Heer Commandeur van der Stel, Juffrou van Rede en Juffrou Breugel  … Schoeman, relying on a flawed transcription by Richard Ball, has een Malyasier [sic – Malagasies] slavynnen [sic – slavyn] Wolandien [sic – Volandien] and Sinte-Pas [sic – Sinke-Pas] … [vide Karel Schoeman, Here & Boere  Die kolonie aan die Kaap onder die Van der Stels, 1679-1712 (Protea Book House, Pretoria 2013), p. 418]. A subsequent, slightly improved, transcription can be viewed at https://www.eggsa.org/sarecords/index.php/church-registers/cape-town-ngk-1665-to-1695/55-cape-town-baptisms-1685 with the following note: “The transcription was originally made in 2006 by Richard Ball. Corrections were received from Delia Robertson and Alwyn Smit and Corney Keller had now completely revised and amended the original transcript (February 2012)”.

Den [sic] 8 Julii
Francina-Helena de moeder Volandien een Malyasies [sic] slavyn en, de vader Steven Sinte-Pas [sic] soldaet
de agtbare Heer van Rede in syn [e] plaets stont de E. Heer […therus][sic], de Ed. Heer Commandeur van der [Stel], juffrou van Rede en juffrou Breugel

[3] Is Steven Sinke-Pas the same individual found later as a free-black recorded as Sinobaay / Sinipa van de Cust? [see J. Leon Hattingh, Die Eerste Vryswartes van Stellenbosch 1679-1720, Wes-Kaaplandse Instituut vir Historiese Navorsing, Universiteit van Wes-Kaapland, Bellville 1981]. For some background on this curious nick-name, see my blog: Cinque pas … Five paces ahead … Markeer die pas … Marking time …

[4] VOC High Commissioner Hendrik Adriaan, Baron van Reede / Rheede tot Drake(n)stein, Heer van Mijdrecht (Amsterdam, 13 April 1636 – at sea 15 December 1691).

[5] Martin – Isaac de l’Ostal / Lostal de Saint-Martin (c. 1629-14 April 1696) – VOC Councillor Major-General and Commander-in-Chief of all the armies of the Company in the Indies.

[6] Commander (later Governor) Simon van der Stel (14 October 1639-24 June 1712), Heer van Lisse.

[7] Francina van Reede / Rheede – adopted slave-born daughter of VOC High Commissioner Hendrik Adriaan, Baron van Reede tot Drake(n)stein, Heer van Mijdrecht (Amsterdam, 13 April 1636 – at sea 15 December 1691)

[8] Cape-born Elsie / Elsje van Zuerwarden / Suurwaerden (1662 -1713?)  baptised Elsje at the Cape (8 October 1662), she is the  daughter of early Cape free-burgher and tailor Hendrik Snijer Hendrikssen (from Sürwürden in the Danish –controlled Duchy of Oldenborg) by his wife Margaretha (Grietje/n) Frans: Meeckhoff from Steenwijck [now Steenwijkerland after merging with Brederwiede and IJsselham] and step-daughter of Willem van Dieden (from Amsterdam); she marries (1stly) Cape 8 June 1681 Albert Jansz: van Breugel / Breughel (from Amsterdam) ondercoopman – nephew of Albert Van Breugel who was also at the Cape [See Dictionary of South African Biography (DSAB), vol.  IV, pp.  675-6]; he dies Madagascar 1686; no issue; she marries (2ndly) 8 May 1689 Andries de Man (from Amsterdam) Cape secunde [DSAB, vol. II, p. 171]; she marries (3rdly) 16 December 1696 onderkoopman and kassier Hendrik Munkerus (from Haarlem).

[9] George McCall Theal, Belangrijke Historische Dokumenten verzamel in de Kaap Kolonie en Elders, No. 1:  Instructies van den commassaris Hendrik van Rheede, 1685 (Van de Sandt, De Villiers & Co., Ltd. Cape Town 1896).

[10] Infant baptisms of privately owned or personal slaves are on record as already haven taking place at the discretion of the owners before this date.

[11] Johannes Claesz: is the son of Claes van Malabar who is also intimately involved with Helena van Timor and Constantia van Bengale.  See Cape Archives (CA): MOOC 8/3, no. 17 (Inventory of Nonje (Helena) Francina 9 May 1713); MOOC 8/4, no. 104 (Inventory: Johannes Claasz:, son of Claas van Mallebar, 17 February 1728); MOOC 8/8, no. 12 (Inventory & Vendu Roll: Johanna de Rijk, 1 January 1755); MOOC 10/1, no. 90 (Vendu Rol: Nonje Francina);  MOOC 13/1/1, fol. 129 (Nonje Francina); MOOC 13/1/3, no. 112 (Johanna de Rijk laast wed:e Leendert Barend van Saxen, 22 July 1757); MOOC 14/2, no. 129 (Diverse Boedelpapieren: Helena Francina); CA: CJ 1167, no. 90 (Joint Will: Leendert Barends van Saxen van de Caab & Johanna de Ryk van de Caab); CJ 1168, no. 89 (Will: Johanna de Ryk, widow of Johannes Claasz:); CJ 2652, no. 90 (Will: Constantia van Bengalen, 13 June 1727); CJ 2652, no. 91 (Will: Claas Mallebaar, 13 June 1727); CJ 2653, no. 89 (Will: Claas Mallebaar, 1730); CJ 2658, no. 39 (Will: Claas van Malabar, 24 July 1747).  See Mansell G. Upham‘, Claes van Malabar and his Descendants’ in Die Claas(s)en afstammelinge in Suid-Afrika, edited by Nicolaas Claassen and Gert Hendrik Claassen (Centurion 2001).  The writer plans to feature soon an updated history of these 3 siblings.

[12] See my blog Children of HAM – The use of the name « Africanus / Africana » during the early stages of the VOC’s colonial occupation of the Cape of Good Hope: Early examples of affirmative identification with the African continent by Eurasian, Eurafrican, and even European folk:

[13] CA: MOOC 7/2 (Testamenten, 1 March 1712), no. 55; CJ 2598 (Testamenten, 1702-1714, 1 March 1712), no. 34, pp. 133-137; Anna J. Böeseken, Simon van der Stel en sy Kinders, Nasou Beperk, Cape Town 1964), p. 219.  See also Karel Schoeman, Early slavery at the Cape of Good Hope 1652-1717, Protea Book House, Pretoria 2007), p. 330 and Here & Boere  Die kolonie aan die Kaap onder die Van der Stels, 1679-1712 (Protea Book House, Pretoria 2013), p. 418.

[14] Lijwaten = lijwaat = linne.

[15] Daughter of the Cape-born convicted adulteress Helena Wijnands: Bezuidenhout (1669-1713) by her 1st husband the Baes Slager Jan Wessels (from ‘t Amp te Harpstede [Harpsted – now incorporated into the city of Bremen in Germany]), widower of Rebecca van Baelbaergen, widow of Ds. Petrus Hulsenaer;  step-daughter of sick-comforter and tutor to the Van der Stel family, Petrus Tavenrath (from Rheinberg in the Duchy of Cleves).  The writer is a direct descendant (maternal 7x great-grandson) of her brother the heemraad Johannes Wessels (1690-1718).

[16] CA: MOOC 8/3, no. 17 (Nonje Fransina / Helena Francina: inventaris v[an de] goederen van Nonje Fransina die ten [haaren] huijsen [ie Juff:r Johanna Wessels huijsvrouw van den heer Francois van der Stel] is komen de overleden, bestaan, 9 May 1713); MOOC 10/1, no. 90 (Vendu rol der goederen naargelaten en met er dood ontruijmt bij wijlen Nonje Francina ten voordeele van haar twee broeders Johannes Claasz: en Hendrik Albertsz:, 7 December 1715); MOOC 14/2 (Diverse Boedelpapieren) (Helena Francina), no. 129.

Prince of Tambora converts to Christianity and marries (3 July 1740) at the Cape of Good Hope a Cape-born woman of European descent

by Mansell Upham

On 3 July 1740 the former Muslim royal prince of Tambora Mochamat Dayan – having converted (1739) to Christianity and assuming the name David Sultania – marries at the Cape of Good Hope the Cape-born widow Marie (Maria) Jourdan [Jordaan].

She is the daughter of a re-routed French Protestant refugee and a migrant Dutch mother …

The groom is the son of the Cape-exiled Raja of Tambora Albubasi Sultan aka Sultan Nissa Nudum Abdul Rassa / Nissa Nidum, Abdula Radja – and maternal grandson of the Cape-exiled “Macassarisse Priester” Schjegh Joseph – Shaikh Yusup (1626-1699).

The groom’s sister Sitina Asia – baptised Maria Dorothea Sultania – is married to Christiaan Carel van den Bos (from Den Haag) who is executed for raping the 10-year-old Johanna Hoog (baptised 8 July 1725), minor illegitimate child of Widow Pelzer, Elisabeth van den Berg by Claas (de) Hoog. The rape takes place in the house belonging to the Deaconij and inhabited by the groom’s mother, the impoverished Ranee of Tambora Sitina Sara Marouff aka Care Sals (born 1679), daughter of Shaikh Yusup

The bride is daughter to French Protestant refugee Pierre Jourdan (from Belle Etoile [Luberon, Provence, France]) and Johanna Adriana Junius and formerly widow of the Cape-born Eurafrican David Pretorius. Her former husband is the illegitimate son of heelslag Cape-born freed slave Maria Hansen and grandson of Jajenne / Gegeima aka Lobbetje van Guinea), formerly married to the freed slave Constantia van Bengale (aka Constantia van Malabar / Coromandel), widow of the Cape-born, free-black fisherman Joost Ventura (illegitimate son of freed slave woman belonging to Cape Governor Joan Bax van Herentals, Helena van Malabar by Cape Commander (later Governor) Simon van der Stel’s chef, the freed slave Ventura van Ceylon).

The bride’s mother was banished earlier from the Cape (September 1708) for committing adultery, sailing on the ship Vryburg to Batavia …

” … a certain woman, Johanna Junius, married to Pieter Jordaan, but found publicly cohabiting with another, and being of a very bad life and conduct, has, according to the sentence of the Court, been divorced by her husband at his request and condemned to be imprisoned for five years in the House of Correction” …

The Spinning House [Spinhuys] or House of Correction [Tugthuys] at Batavia

The wedded couple soon relocate with their family (1743) to Batavia.

Keeping the gate of Hell – ‘subliminal racism’ and early Cape carnal conversations between black men and white women …

Keeping the gate of Hell …’subliminal racism’ and early Cape carnal conversations between black men and white women


Originally featured in, Capensis, 2001/1, pp. 16‐43 and updated Tokyo (5 June 2021).

Othello: Are you not a strumpet?

Desdemona:          No, as I am a Christian.

If to preserve this vessel for my lord

From any other foul unlawful touch

Be not to be a strumpet, I am none.

Othello: What, not a whore?

Desdemona:          No, as I shall be sav’d.

Othello: Is’t possible?

Desdemona:          O, heaven forgive us!

Othello: I cry you mercy, then.

I took you for that cunning whore of Venice

That married with Othello – You, mistress,

That have the office opposite to Saint Peter

And keep the gate of hell!

William Shakespeare, Othello, The Moor of Venice

This article investigates how historians explain an apparent irregularity of sexual activity between white women and black men during the VOC’s colonial occupation of the Cape of Good Hope.  As starting point, let us look at that standard historical compilation entitled The Shaping of South African Society 1652-1840 (edited by Richard Elphick and Hermann Giliomee), and more specifically, at the chapter ‘Intergroup Relations, 1652-1795’ by Richard Elphick and Robert Shell.  The work was first published in 1979 and revised in a 2nd edition in 1989. This book is generally considered to be authoritative.  Often prescribed for university students, or relied on as a major reference work, the work has influenced (unduly?) much subsequent historical writings and research on colonial (and even modern) South Africa. 

In a section all-embracingly termed Miscegenation and Intermarriage, these historians state the following:

There was apparently little sexual activity in any district between black males and European females.  Heese[1] has found references to only six such unions, and the authorities ruthlessly punished this sort of concubinage [sic].

Elphick and Shell illustrate the phenomenon of this sort of concubinage by giving three examples:

  • the case in 1694 of sexual immorality between Jantje van Batavia & a 13-year-old Adriana van Jaarsveld[2]
  • the case in 1713 of Anthony van Mozambique for raping a minor [Anne Jourdan]  (the victim Shell and Elphick leave unnamed); and 
  • the case in 1732 Hendrik van Nias who also raped a minor [Susanna Kuun]  (Shell and Elphick also do not identify the victim by name or age).

Were these three examples selected at random?  Were these the only examples known to, or researched by, them? 

Not only are all taken from criminal records, but these were effectively brutal or illicit criminalised sexual encounters of abrupt duration.  Although possibly qualifying as miscegenation, these incidents cannot be reconciled logically with the concepts of concubinage and marriage. 

Concubinage stricto sensu is the cohabitation between a man and woman who are not legally married.  Living together as de facto man and wife entails an element of duration or permanence and often tolerance (of sorts) by others.  Elphick and Shell conclude from these three examples:

The barbarity of these sentences was totally inconsistent with the mild, and rarely enforced, penalties against concubinage or rape between European males and black females.

Thus far the enquiry, however, appears to have several shortcomings:

  • The rarity of such interaction across the racial or colour lines is either accepted uncritically, or the issue played down by way of inconsistency and/or expediency.
  • Rape, sexual assault, sex-with-a-minor, pedophilia, immoral sexual behaviour across the colour line between two consenting (loving?) adults who either connect only briefly, commit adultery, live in concubinage or are even legitimately married according to religious rites and societal conventions, rules and ceremonies etc, are simply lumped (equated?) together.
  • The late Dr J.A. Heese is relied on (indirectly) for quantitative justification. The 6 incidents he found are not listed or described.  This source is merely footnoted and substantiated as personal communication.  Divulging the identities of the people singled out and the nature of these incidents could help us decide what type of relationships took place, eg marriage or rape or sexual molestation of a minor etc.
  • Only three examples are relied on (directly) to cover a whole range of interracial sexual activity between black males and white females irrespective of age or consent or duration.  The facts of the three cases quoted are assumed to be sufficiently illustrative of such varied interracial activity.
  • It is stated categorically that all cases of “this sort of concubinage” were ruthlessly punished by the authorities. 
  • The ‘barbarity’ of the sentences imposed on the three cases in question are presumed to be totally inconsistent with the mild, and rarely enforced, penalties against ‘concubinage’ or ‘rape’ between European [sic] males and black females.  No statistics are given.  There is no conceptual clarification or indication of what the contemporary attitudes to rape might have been.

In his later work (1994) Children of Bondage: A Social History of the Slave Society at the Cape of Good Hope, 1652-1838, Robert Shell approaches the same topic, but this time from the point of view of a stable and lawfully recognised relationship, viz marriage: [3]

Recent research on interracial marriages in the antebellum South has eschewed any reliance on anecdotal sources.  The welcome practice of quantifying primary records has now caught hold in South Africa, and thanks to the careful genealogical work of the Historical Institute at the University of the Western Cape, we know that only two liaisons between a “full-breed” (heelslag) or mulatto [halfslag] male slave (or ex-slave) and a settler woman ever resulted in marriage.

In a footnote he gives the examples of Marguerite de Savoye who married Christoffel Snyman (c 1690), and Maria Roos who married David Hoon on 9 November 1794. These were lawful marriages and not ‘liaisons’ as Shell calls them.

A liaison generally amounts to illicit intimacy between a man and a woman.[4] 

Already in 1984 Hans Heese singled out four interracial unions between black men and white women at the Cape for the period 1652-1795:[5]

  • Christoffel Snyman & Marguerite de Savoye;
  • David Hoon & Maria Roos
  • Salomon Jacobs & Anne Elisabeth Zeeman[6]
  • Johannes Claassen junior, the son of Johannes Claasen & Johanna de Ryk whose descendants were taken up in the white community.

The first three mentioned were all legal unions.  The fourth man had three successive unions with women of varying hue: one de facto and the other two de jure.[7] 

In a further attempt to quantify, (or at least identify) the documented cases involving black male / white female sexual interaction, the writer has found examples of many more consummated marriages or stable legal unions between black men and white women at the Cape during the VOC-period.  Also singled out are the various recorded briefer sexual interactions that took place.  In view of the ongoing research, these examples are not exhaustive.  These incidents are categorised under various headings that reflect the intricacy of interracial variables involving white women and black men. 

Aspects, worthy of consideration, include:

  • the legal status of these black and mixed race men in terms of being free-born, freed (manumitted) or enslaved and whether born in or out of wedlock (ie legitimate or illegitimate – in echt or in onecht);
  • lawful marriage between a white woman and black man was possible – provided the black man was baptised (ie Christian) – and illegal and punishable (where applicable) as concubinage, adultery or fornication if he were Heathen or Moor;
  • specific nomenclature and identity tags deriving from such legal status made for legally entrenched (also racial and racist) hierarchic discrimination,  eg: christen [8], onchristen [9], vrij geboren [10], vrij zwart [11], lijfeijgen / slaaf [12], heelslagh [13], halfslagh [14](mestiço/mesties [15] or mulatto [16]), kastiço (kasties)[17],  Bastaard [18], Bastaard Hottentot [19], Hottentot [20], Bosjesman [21].


Slave heelslagh (later freed) men & white (Cape-born) women

Claas Jonas de Jonge (c. 1705-1759) & Anna Maria Brits (1694-c. 1773)

They married at the Groote Kerk on 12 July 1733.  He was born in slavery and illegitimate.  He was heelslagh and the son of the heelslagh Company-slave, the Cape-born Claas Jonas d’oude (baptised 1 August 1688) and the privately owned slave Dina van Bima (died 1782) – both freed by 1711.[22]  He was the grandson of the former Cape-born heelslagh Company-slave woman Armozyn [Claesz:] de Cleijne van de Caep (1659-1733) by the Company slave Jonas van Malabar and great-grandson of the Arab or Ethiopian Company slave woman Koddo aka Cornelia Arabus, possibly by the privately owned slave (later free-black), Paaij Claes van Guinea. At the time of their marriage, Anna Maria Brits was the widow of the illegitimate mulatto and vrij geboren Hermanus Gerrits:.  Their marriage is dealt with later in this article.  She was the daughter of Hans Jacob: Brits (from Stein) and the illegitimate, Cape-born Dina Willemse alias Dina Ockerse (c. 1672-1722).  Her mother’s illegitimacy may explain why she married ‘down’.  Her mother was the product of an adulterous union between Maria Jans: Visser (from Ommen) and her husband’s knecht Ockert Cornelisz: Olivier.  Her husband, Willem Willemsz de Lierman (from Deventer), fled the Cape after killing a ‘Hottentot’.  During his absence, Dina and her brother Cornelis were conceived in adultery. Dina’s illegitimacy was legally irreversible and the stigma invariably damned her descendants to the less ‘respectable’ and lower levels of Cape colonial society. The children of Claas Jonas and Anna Maria Brits were mulatto.[23]

Slave halfslagh (later freed) men & white (Europe-born) women

Christoffel Snijman van de Caep (1668-1705) & Marguerite-Thérèse de Savoye (1673-1742)

This union is exceptional.   It is the only known recorded union between a Europe-born (white) woman and a manumitted ‘black’ (in this case mestizzo or half-black) man.  They married at the Drakenstein (Paarl) church c. 1690. The Drakenstein marriage register for the period was destroyed in a fire.[24]   He was born in slavery at the Cape and illegitimate.  He was mesties being the son of the exiled convict and Company-slave Catharina (Groote Catrijn) van Paliacatta (c. 1631-1683), by a white father.  The soldier Hans Christoffel: Snijder [Schneider] / Snijman (from Heidelberg), who was banished to Robben Island, was reputedly his biological father.  His mother was baptised at the Cape on 29 April 1668 while he was baptised at the Cape on 9 March 1669.  He was freed in December 1671, together with his mother, following her 2nd pardon by the governor-general in Batavia.  As a result of his mother’s marriage on 20 December 1671, he was legitimised becoming the adopted son of the free-black Anthonij Jansz: van Bengale (died 1682)Marguerite-Thérèse de Savoye was born in Ghent in Flanders.  She was the daughter of the famous Huguenot refugee Jacques de Savoye (1636-1717) (from Ath in Hainault) by his 1st wife Christine du Pont.[25]

Slave halfslagh (later freed) men & white (Cape-born) women

Jacobus van As (1664-1713) & Maria Clements: (1672 -1700)

They married at Drakenstein Church (Paarl) on 8 May 1689.  He was halfslagh and born in slavery, the illegitimate son of the privately owned slave Angela(Maaij Ansela) van Bengale (died 1720).  His biological father was reputedly the Company cooper, Jan van As(ch) / Assen (from Brussels).  He was manumitted on 13 April 1666, together with his mother and two siblings, Anna de Coninck (1662-1734) and the executed Jan (Jantje) van As junior (1664-1688).  He was legitimised in terms of his influential (toady?) mother’s marriage on 15 December 1669 to his stepfather Arnoldus Willemsz: Basson (from Wesel).  Maria Clements: (baptised Cape 11 August 1672) was the Cape-born daughter of the Swede Matthias Mikaelsson (from Stockholm) and Isabella van Delft (from Bommel).[26]

Anna de Coninck (1662-1734) – photograph of lost portrait [Cape Archives]

Jacobus Steyn & Maria Potgieter

They married on 4 October 1706.  He was casties and born in slavery being the voorzoon of the privately owned, Cape-born mesties slave, Maria Lozee, by an unknown father and grandson of the privately owned slave Maria van Bali.[27]  He was baptised at the Cape on 29 August 1683.  He was freed with his mother and legitimised by her marriage on 19 August 1685 to Douw Gerbrandsz: Steyn (from Leeuwarden).  Maria Potgieter (baptised Cape 31 August 1687) was the daughter of Harmen Jansen Potgieter (from Nordhorn) and Isabella Frederiks: (from Amsterdam).[28]

Free-born heelslagh & white (Cape-born) women

Hendrik Claasen & Maria Booysen

They married at Stellenbosch on 14 July 1709.  Cape-born, he was vrij geboren out of wedlock. He was baptised at the Cape on 30 December 1685.  He was heelslagh being the son of the freed private slaves, Claas Gerritsz: van Bengale (baptised Cape 10 February 1686) (died 1697) and Sara van Solor, (baptised Cape 3 September 1679).  Prior to her marriage, his mother worked in the household of the senior official, Willem van Dieden and Grietje Frans: Meeckhoff, the widow of Hinrich (Hendrik Snijer) Hinrichssen (from Sürwürden).  She also had an illegitimate child by the surveyor Joan Wittebol (from Amsterdam).  Hendrik Claassen was subsequently legitimised by the marriage of his parents on 13 March 1686.  His mother remarried in 1698 a mestizzo Herman Buys (from Batavia).  She obtained a divorce from him in 1707 because he ill-treated her and her children from the previous marriage.[29]  Buys had illegitimate children by the slave woman Diana van Trankebar.[30]  Maria Booysen (baptised Cape 26 December 1681) was the Cape-born daughter of the venerable Boy Booysen (from Barlt) and Hermina van Nes (from Wyk bij Duurstede).  The social standing of the Booysen clan continues to intrigue.

Mochamat Dayan, alias David Sultania & Marie Jourdan

They married on 3 July 1740.  She was the widow of the free-born illegitimate mulatto Dirk Pretorius (of whom see below).  David Sultania was the son of the exiled rajah / sultan Albubasi Sultan and ranee / sultana Sitina Sara Marouff of Tambora.  Born Mochamat Dayan, he converted to Christianity and was baptised David Sultania in 1739.  His sister Sitina Asia, baptised Maria Dorothea Sultania, was married to Christiaan Carel van den Bos (from Den Haag) who was executed for the rape of the 10-year-old Johanna Hoog (baptised 8 July 1725), the minor illegitimate child of the widow Pelzer, Elisabeth van den Berg, by Claas (de) Hoog.  The rape took place in the house belonging to the deaconij and inhabited by the impoverished ranee who was the daughter of Shaikh Yusup.[31]  Marie Jourdan (baptised 16 November 1704), was the daughter of Pierre Jourdan (from Belle Etoile [Luberon, Provence]) and Johanna Adriana Junius.[32]

Johannes Claasz: junior, alias Hannes Malabar & Cornelia van Wyk

They married at Drakenstein Church (Paarl) on 2 April 1751. He was vrij geboren, illegitimate and heelslagh.  He was baptised at Drakenstein on 12 January 1724. He was legitimised by parents’ later marriage.  He was the son of the manumitted Johannes Claasz: senior (died c. 1727) and the vrij geboren Johanna de Ryk (baptised Cape 4 April 1712).  His paternal grandparents were the free-blacks Claas (van) Malabar (died post 1747) and Helena van Timor.  His maternal grandparents were the free-blacks Arent van Macassar and Constantia van BengaleCornelia van Wyk (baptised Drakenstein 25 March 1731) was the daughter of Roelof van Wyk and Aletta Bezuidenhout who were both Cape-born.  She was the maternal granddaughter of of the Cape-born Wynand Bezuidenhout and Gerbregt Boshouwer, great-granddaughter of the Cape-born mesties Adriaantje Gabriels: and Pieter BoshouwerAdriaentje Gabriels: was born in slavery and illegitimate, the daughter of the privately owned slave, Catharina (Catrijn) van Malabar.  She was baptised on 13 November 1667, freed with her mother and legitimised in terms of her mother’s marriage to her stepfather, Cornelis (Kees) Claesz: de Boer (from Utrecht), on 15 March 1676. 

Free-born mesties men & white (Europe-born) women

Gerrit Basson (1673-1713?)  & Johanna Ryninck / Rykse Verburg (from Leiden)

Maaij Ansela’s son by her lawful husband, he ‘married up’ or at least according to his station.  The Verburg family was an established, high-ranking and well-connected VOC family.  The marriage was childless.  The DRC Archive’s baptismal register index, De Villiers/Pama and Heese/Lombard, all incorrectly ascribe to them a child baptised Hendrik on 1 January 1710.  This was in fact the son of Gerrit Jansz: van Deventer and his wife Arriaentie Jacobs: whose baptism was witnessed by Gerrit Basson and Jannetie Rykse.

Free-born mesties men & white (Cape-born) women

Willem Basson (1670-1713) & Helena Clements: (1674-1713)

Maaij Ansela’s son by her lawful husband, he married his sister-in-law who was the wife of his half-brother, Jacobus van As (see above).  She was the Cape-born daughter of the Swede, Matthias Mikaelsson (from Stockholm), and Isabella van Delft (from Bommel).[33]

Jan Basson (1675-1706) & Zacharia Jans: Visser (1665-1713)

Maaij Ansela’s son by her lawful husband, a bachelor, he shacked up with the widow of the free hunter, Diederich Putter (from Zierenberg) who had died in 1699.  A child, Arnoldus Johannes Basson (baptised 26 February 1702), was conceived out of this illicit union whose maternity became a bone of contention after his mother’s death.  The widow remarried on 5 July 1706 Andries Krügel (from Tennenlohe) who later denied the existence of his late wife’s bastard child.  Jan Basson was half-brother to Jan (Jantje) van As who was executed in 1688 for stock theft and the abduction and murder of the slave Anthonij van Malabar.  His nephew, also Jan van As (baptised Stellenbosch 6 April 1692), the son of Jacobus van As and Maria Clements:, was banished to Robben Island in 1716 for his immoral behaviour whilst still a ward of the Orphan Chamber.  Zacharia Jans: Visser was born at the Cape and baptised on 23 August 1665.  Since Commander Zacharias Wagenaer had been her godfather, she was commonly referred to as Zacharias Wagenaer.  Possibly, this is the earliest documented case of a woman at the Cape using (or being known by) a man’s name.  She was the daughter of the free-burgher Johannes (Jan Groff) Coenraed: Visser (from Ommen), and Margaretha (Grietje Groff) Gerrits: (from Hardenburg), alias Grietie Pietersz:.  Her mother, who beat her slave Claes van Malabar, was axed to death by him in March 1692.  Her father had numerous illegitimate offspring by at least two slave women:  the Company slave Maria (Marij) van Bengale and his own slave Maria van Negapatnam.  Her half-sister was the infamous Maria Jans: Visser (from Ommen), alias Maria Liermans:, who had committed adultery with Ockert Cornelisz: Olivier (from Oudekerk).  It was this half-sister’s granddaughter, Catharina Olivier (baptised 30 December 1708) whose parents had both been wards of the Orphan Chamber, who married Zacharia’s illegitimate son, Arnoldus Johannes Basson (1702-1742).  Her son was banished to Batavia in 1739 for his involvement with the ‘social bandit’ Estienne Barbier.

Free-born mulatto men & white (Cape-born) women

David Pretorius & Marie Jourdan

They married on 1 February 1722.  He was vrij geboren and mulatto being the illegitimate son of Dirk Pretorius (from Linteloo) by his concubine, the Cape-born freed slave Maria Hans(en) / Hansdochter. Recorded as a fisherman in 1722, Johannes Pretorius was the maternal grandson of the privately owned ‘Guinea’ slave Gegeima / Jajenne alias Lobbetje.  He was baptised at the Groote Kerk on 27 May 1691.  He was the widower of Constantia van Bengale alias Constantia van Malabar / Coromandel, the widow of the Cape-born, free-black fisherman Joost Ventura.  They had seven children.  Marie Jourdan (baptised 16 November 1704), was the daughter of Pierre Jourdan (from Belle Etoile [Luberon, Provence]) and Johanna Adriana Junius. On 3 July 1740 Marie Jourdan married (2ndly) David Sultania, the son of the exiled rajah / sultan of Tambora Albubasi Sultan aka Sultan Nissa Nudum Abdul Rassa / Nissa Nidum, Abdula Radja and ranee / sultana of Tambora Sitina Sara Marouff.  He was the maternal grandson of Shaikh Yusup.  This marriage is discussed separately above.

Abadin Tadia Tjoessoep (1626–1699) aka Sheikh Yusuf / Shaikh Yusup / Sheik(h) Joseph — den Macassarisse Priester, Schjegh JosephMuhammad Yūsuf al-Maqassārī (1037-1111 / 1627-99) alias Abd Allāh Abū al-Mahāsin al-Tāj al-Khalwātī al-Maqassārī (known in Sulawesi as Tuanta Salamaka ri Gowa)

Hermanus Gerrits: (1701-1730) & Anna Maria Brits (1694-c. 1773)

They married allegedly on 5 December 1723.  He was vrij geboren and mulatto being the illegitimate son of Gerrit Gerritz: (from Oldenborg) by his concubine, the freed slave Susanna van Bombasa alias Susanna van Madagascar.[34]  He was baptised at the Groote Kerk (Cape Town) on 20 March 1701.  Anna Maria Brits was the daughter of Hans Jacob: Brits (from Stein) and the irreversibly illegitimate Cape-born Dina Ockers: / Willems: (c. 1672-1722).  She married Claes Jonas de Jonge (already dealt with).[35]

Johannes Colijn & Johanna Appel

They married on 23 September 1724.  He was the widower of the free-born kasties Elsabe van Hoff (daughter of the Cape-born mulatta Margaretha Jans: Vissers: and granddaughter of the private slave woman Maria (Marij) van Bnegale by the free-burgher Jan Coenraed: Visser (from Ommen).  He was vrij geboren and mulatto, the illegitimate son of the Cape-born vrij geboren Maria Everts:.  He was the maternal grandson of the freed slave, Evert van Guinea and his de facto wife the privately owned (later freed) slave, Hoena aka Anna van Guinea.  He was baptised 26 December 1692.  Although his mother was separated from her lawful husband Jackie Joy van Angola, she was still legally married.  In terms of Roman-Dutch Law, if Jackie Joy were still alive, the law would have deemed him to be the biological father.  This legal fiction was designed to prevent, or at least minimise, bastardy.  His biological father was his mother’s concubine, Bastiaen Colijn (from ‘s Gravenhage). His polygamous maternal grandfather ‘earned’ his freedom by collaborating with the Dutch in the capture of his runaway enslaved compatriots.  His influential mother consolidated and added to the family’s landed property and died a wealthy woman.  She reputedly had an illegitimate child by the senior surgeon, Willem ten Damme (from Oldenzeel).  On of the latter’s legitimate descendants was the Cape governor Hendrik Swellengrebel. Johanna Appel was the daughter of Cape-born parents, Ferdinandus Appel and Lavina / Louwina Cloete.  Ferdinandus Appel committed adultery with Maria Kickerts:, alias Kickers: (ie ‘frog’), the estranged wife of Jan Cornelisz: (from Oudbeyerland), alias Bombam and concubine of Friedrich Both/a  (from Wangenheim).  Lavina / Louwina Cloete was the daughter of the notorious ‘Hottentot’ killer Dronke Gerrit and the granddaughter of the murdered Jacob Cloete (from Cologne).

Evert Colijn & Adriana van Deventer

They married on 15 March 1739.  He was vrij geboren and mulatto, the illegitimate son of the Cape-born vrij geboren Maria Everts:.  He was baptised on 3 October 1700.  His biological father was his mother’s concubine, Bastiaen Colijn (from ‘s Gravenhage).  Adriana van Deventer (baptised 11 September 1712) was the daughter of the Cape-born Jan Gerritsz: (from Deventer) (baptised 21 August 1689) and Magdalena Brits (baptised 13 April 1692) and maternal granddaughter of Hans Jacob: Brits (died 1729) from Stein and the irreversibly illegitimate, Cape-born Dina Willemse / Ockerse (c. 1672-1722).  Her paternal grandmother, a purported genetic-disease-carrier, Ariaantje Jacobs: (from Rotterdam), was one of the specially recruited orphan girls sent out in 1688 on the Berg China to become settler wives.[36]

Free-born castiço men & (Cape-born) white women

Roelof Olofse & Sara Cordier

They married on 15 August 1728.  He was vrij geboren and the legitimate son of the Cape-born mulatta ex-Company slave, Sara Jans: Leenderts: van Gijselen / Gieselen  (1671-1713) and her husband Andreas Wesse Olofssen de Noorman (from Christiania).  He would have been known a cuarteron in the New World.  He was in all likelihood the maternal grandson of Koddo aka Cornelia Arabus van Abusinna reputedly by Leedeert Jansz: van Gijselen (from Den Haag).  His mother had been severely censured by the Stellenbosch church for her immorality.  After her husband’s death in 1709, she had an illegitimate child, Sara Meurs by the landdrost at Stellenbosch Samuel Martini de Meurs (from Dordrecht), who later married Jan Michiel Kromhout / Krumholect (from Königsberg).  Sara Cordier (baptised 28 January 1713) was the daughter of the French Huguenots, Jean Cordier and Jeanne Terrier.  Both husband and wife appear to have been impoverished (even unwilling) wards of the Orphan Chamber.

Cape aborigine (‘Hottentot’) man & (Cape-born) white women

Klaas Barends / Berend & Catharina Elisabeth Cloete

Their union commencing c. 1759 appears to have been de facto.  Or were they married by missionaries?  Klaas Barends / Berend is recorded as being een regte Hottentot.   Catharina Elisabeth Cloete (baptised 13 November 1740) was the daughter of Gerrit Cloete and Huibrecht Slabbert, the granddaughter of the notorius Dronke Gerrit and the great-granddaughter of the murdered Jacob Cloete (from Cologne).  She trekked into the interior with her widowed father who ‘went native’.  She became the founding mother of the Barends families / clan of Griqualand West. [37]

‘Bastaard Hottentot’ man & (Cape-born) ‘white’ woman

David Hoon (1766-1841) & Maria Roos

They married on 9 November 1794. He was the son of Sambouw van Madagascar and Rachel van de Caep.  He appears to be the son of a Cape aborigine mother, hence vrij geboren, and a slave father.  She was the daughter of Gijsbert Roos and Wilhelmina Booysen, the granddaughter of Gerrit Booysen and Johanna Durand, the great-granddaughter of Jean Durand (from La Motte-Chalançon) and Anna Wilhelmina and the great-great-granddaughter of Jan Willemsz: Vermeulen (from Utrecht) & the former privately owned slave, Catharina Opklim van Bengale.


In his later work Shell Children of Bondage (1994) anecdotalises under the heading Sexual Exploitation (pp. 315-324) about a few more interracial (consensual and non-consensual) intercourse between enslaved / freed black men and white women / girl-children that appear in the criminal records:

  • Adriana van Jaarsveld & Jantje van Batavia
  • Neeltje Olivier & Robert van Batavia
  • Maria Mouton & Titus van Bengale
  • Mrs van Bruel & her unnamed slave
  • Unnamed victim [Hilletje Smits:] & Jacob van de Coromandel Coast
  • Unnamed victim [Risie Jacobs:] & Cupido van Bengale & his master’s daughter

These examples, together with the cases originally cited by Shell and Elphick, are detailed chronologically below under more appropriate headings.  Where other writers are known to have written about these incidents, these references have been added. Incidents during the period 1652-1800 that have not received attention until now are also included.  What happened to the victims afterwards, if known, is also indicated.


Five incidents are on record.  Three of the girls (Hilletje Smits:, Neeltje Olivier & Susanna Kuun) were almost young women at the time, while the 4th one (Helena Nieuwoudt) was only twelve-years old and the victims of the 5th incident (the Ackerhuys sisters) were six years old and six months old.  Two of the assailants were more severely punished: one for running away, and the other for harassing yet another older Christian woman (Cornelia Henning).  Neeltje Olivier, Hilletje Smits:, Helena Nieuwoudt, Susanna Kuun all married, becoming mothers and important ancestors.  Cornelia Henning appears to have remained an ‘old maid’ looking after her brother, the converted ex-Jew, former executioner, Abraham Hartogh (from Frankfurt).

1705                Jacob van de Coromandel Cust & Hilletje Smits:

The slave belonging to Isaac Schrijver, Jacob van de Coromandel Cust, aged 25-years, cornered the 19-year-old Hilletje Smits: at Jonkershoek, near Stellenbosch.  It was dusk.  He propositioned her for sexual intercourse.  She refused him behaving ‘properly’ in billikhijd as would a daughter of European parentage sijnde een dogter van Europeaansche geslagte.  By 10 o’clock that evening, she was saved from his clutches by a free-burgher who happened to pass by.  Her assailant never got so far as to have sexual intercourse with her.  Jacob ran off, was eventually arrested and brought to trial.  At the trial, the prosecuting officer reminded the court that the crime had been committed bij een slaaf en onchristen aan een dogter van Europeesche en Christene geslagte gepleegd. The court reiterated this unnatural union by een swarte lijfeigenen aan een vrije dogter van Europeansche geslag.    For his attempted rape and fleeing the law, he was sentenced to death.  He was hanged on 10 June 1705.[38]  Hilletje Smits: (baptised 1 April 1691) was the daughter of Jan Smit (from Maastricht) and Adriana Tol (from Delft).  Her mother remarried on 11 January 1705 Andreas Kuyper (from Stettin).  She married on 24 October 1705 the Swede Matthys Andries: de Beer (from Wase [Vasa]), by whom she had nine children.  During the 1st year of her marriage, her husband’s illegitimate child by Maria van Caab, was baptised Geertruyd.  After de Beer’s death, she remarried on 3 April 1757 Johann Georg Zorn (from Pfieffe in Hesse-Nassau), the widower of Maria du Plessis (who had been the widow Jan van Ellewe).

1712                Robert van Batavia & Neeltje Olivier

In October 1712, the 17-year-old Neeltje Olivier was left alone while her mother and brother were out in the fields with the slaves.  She was ‘accosted’, so she claimed, by Robert van Batavia, aged 30 years, who belonged to Neeltje’s maternal grandmother, the widow of Gijsbert Dircx: Verwey (from Cuijk), Catharina (Trijntje) Theunissen Gansevanger de boerin (from Harmelen).  Robert was adamant that Neeltje had led him on, and that this had not been the first time.  Whilst mashing rice to feed the chickens, she made a point of squatting provocatively on her heels and enticing him sexually.  The repartee that followed purportedly revolved around the word melktert being used as a sexual innuendo.  Attempted seduction turned into ‘attempted rape’.  Robert, realising the outcome of even false accusations, fled.  Caught soon thereafter, he was tried and sentenced to death.[39]  Neeltje Olivier (baptised at the Cape on 15 April 1685) was the daughter, and 4th child, of Ockert Cornelisz: Olivier (from Ouwerkerk) and Aletta Verwey (from Woerden). She was deceased by 1721 and probably died a year after the attempted rape in the 1713-smallpox epidemic.  She is not named in the will of her mother and the deceased estate papers of her maternal grandmother.[40]

1729    Abel van Timor & Helena Nieuwoudt

Abel van Timor, a 40-year-old slave belonging to J. M. Cruywagen, was sent by his master to a Company outpost (buitepost).  When at Salt River, he espied the twelve-year-old sister of Anna Willemsz: and attempted to rape her. The victim was Helena Willemsz:, who later adopted the name Nieuwoudt.  She was rescued by the slave woman of Anna Willemsz:, the wife of Robbert Robbertsz: Brand (from Christiania [Oslo]), who happened upon the scene.  Abel fled to the neighbours, the house of the ex-Jew, former executioner, the baptised Christian convert Abraham Hartog, and his spinster sister-in-law, Cornelia Henning.  There he fondled a sleeping Cornelia.  He was, however, apprehended.  His was tried and sentenced to be broken on the cross.[41]  Helena Nieuwoudt was baptised on 9 October 1718.  She was the illegitimate daughter of Gerrit Willemse (from Leeuwarden) by his concubine, the Cape-born Anna van WijckGerrit Willemse was estranged from his adulterous wife, Maria Cornelisse, daughter of the freed slave Catharina van Malabar and Kees de Boer.  He and Anna van Wyk could not marry while his marriage remained un-annulled.  After his death, Anna van Wyk married Isaak Nieuwoudt (from Amsterdam) who adopted her children as his own.  Helena married on 4 March 1736 Izaak Visagie, the son of Pieter Visagie (from Antwerpen) and Catharina Kiens (from ter Veere) and stepson of Wilhelm Meyer, and later of Martin Poussioun.  They were the parents of 11 children.  Her half-sister, Anna (Antje) Willemse (baptised 22 August 1700) died in 1754.  She had been married thrice: 1stly to Harmen Franke(n) (from Leiden); 2ndly 14 April 1720 to Robbert Robbertsz: Brand (from Christiania), the widower of Cornelia (Neeltje) Floris: Slabbert (from Meliskerke); and 3rdly on 3 May 1739 to Joachim Ernst Wepener (from Anklam). The last-mentioned had fathered children by Regina van de Caap. Cornelia Henning was sister-in-law to Abraham Hartog (from Frankfurt), the widower of her sister, Anna Elisabeth Henning.  They were the daughters of Christoffel Henning (from Berlin) and Antonetta Visser (from Lekkerkerk).  Their father had fathered a child by a Cape-born mulatta slave woman, Martha Martens: in the Slave Lodge and had been relegated to Robben Island for assisting Olof Bergh (from Gothenburg) for stealing valuables from a Portuguese shipwreck whilst on orders to retrieve these on behalf of the Company.[42]

Olof Bergh (c. 1643-1724) from Gothenburg, Sweden [Cape Archives]

1732    Hendrik van Nias & Susanna Kuun

In 1732 Hendrik van Nias, then 30-years old, was sent by his patronesse to the wheat fields to chase away the horses.  There he found Susanna Kuun, the 17-year-old daughter of his deceased master and attempted to rape her. He was caught and sentenced to be bound to a cross and to be broken thereon.  If he had not expired by evening, he was to be strangled to death.[43]  Susanna Kuun (baptised 27 January 1715) was one of the minor daughters of Hans Kuun (from Magdeburg) and the Cape-born Susanna Putter.  Her maternal grandmother was the Cape-born widow of the hunter Diederik Putter, Zacharia Jans: Visser, who had had the freeborn mesties Jan Basson (son of Maaij Ansela) as a concubine and an illegitimate child by him after the death of her 1st husband. Susanna married on 11 October 1747 Carl Gustav Tregard (from Uddevalla, Sweden) who died on 19 September 1767.

1767                July van Malabar & the two daughters of Barend Ackerhuys

In 1767 July van Malabar, 17-years old, the slave of Barend Ackerhuys was tried for attempted rape on his master’s two daughters aged six years old and the sixteen months old.  The court saw this as a personal injury to the blood of the slave’s master and mistress calling his attempt an afschuwelijke onderneeming van een vile slaaf aan de bloed van zijn lifheer en lijfvrouw. He was sentenced to hang.[44]  The victims were in all probability Theodora Ackerhuys (baptised 22 December 1756) and her half-sister, Johanna Elisabeth Crause (baptised 22 November 1758).  Their mother was Johanna Elisabeth Kuylets who married 22 February 1756 Johanna Gottlieb Crause (from Tilsit) and who married (secondly) 7 March 1762 Barend Ackerhuys (from Amsterdam).


Only two cases involving sexual assault or rape stricto sensu on minors have been found.  Both victims were young girls (Risie Jacobs: & Anne Jourdan).  Risie Jacobs: left the Cape with her parents.  Her assailant was also convicted for having illicit intercourse with a European woman before and after her marriage and consequently convicted for adultery.  Anne Jourdan later married becoming the mother of many children.

1681                Cupido van Bengale & Risie Jacobs:

The slave belonging to the constable at the Castle, Jacob van der Voorde and his wife, the vroedvrouw Jelletie Hartmans:, was accused of creeping up against the minor child of his master, Risie Jacobs:, one night.  He sexually molested her in cas van onkuysheijt en collicitatie meaning that the slave had used force to gain his ends.  Her age at the time is unknown, but we do know that her sister Helena was baptised in 1676 so that she must have been at least seven-years old. On 3 February 1681 Cupido van Bengale was charged with the crime of having had criminal conversation with his master’s daughter.  His situation was further aggravated by additional charges of fornication about three years ago.  This had been with another European female (Anna Elisabeth Roleemo of whom see later), both before and after her marriage diverse en ontallige maalen on various and numerous occasions thus adding to his offence the greater crime of adultery.  He was sentenced to be hanged and burned under the gallows.  The minutes of the Council of Justice state that the prisoner had nothing to say in his defence, but left all to the will of the court. [45]  Risie Jacobs: and her parents left the Cape soon after the incident.  What became of her later is not known. 

1713                Anthony van Mozambique & Anne Jourdan

On 4 April Anthony van Mozambique, the 25-year-old slave of Pierre Jourdan, went to the opstal at Haute Cabrière at Fransch Hoek to fetch an axe.  Here he learned that his master’s fourteen-year-old daughter, Anne, would be bringing food to the slaves in the fields.  He waylaid her, threatened her with a knife and raped her twice.  He succeeded in keeping her with him for the duration of the night and she only escaped from his clutches the following morning.[46]  ‘This being an execrable enormity and godless deed committed by the prisoner, a heathen (hijden) on a European (Europeesche) girl’ … the court sentenced Anthony to be bound to a cross and to have his flesh pinched from his body by hot irons in four places.  His body was then to be broken on a wheel, decapitated and his head was to be affixed to a pole where he had first insulted the girl.  Anna Jourdan (baptised 30 December 1698/9), the daughter of Pierre Jourdan and Anne Fouché, married Louis Fourie the widower of Susanna Cordier (died 1713) and the father of ten children.  She had eleven children by Louis Fourie


1761                Jeptha van de Caap & Petronella Marseveen

Only one case has come to light.  A mother of four children, Petronella Marseveen died some time soon after her rape in 1761 by Jeptha van de Caap (the slave of Wed. Jacobus de Wet).  Abraham le Roux and his wife were en route from the Cape to Roodezandkloof when she decided to ride ahead to visit her mother.  Before she could get there, Jeptha van de Caep (the 18-year-old slave of Jacobus de Wet) stopped her, pulled her from her horse and raped her.  He was sentenced to be bound on a cross and castrated.  His severed genitals were to be thrown in a fire and he was to be broken on the wheel.  After death, his head was to be impaled on a stake at Roodezandkloof until it decomposed.[47]  She was the daughter of Pierre van Marseveen and Marie Theron and granddaughter of Pieter Jansz: van Marseveen and Elisabeth du Preez.  Her husband remarried 20 July 1766 Cecilia du Preez (died Swellendam 14 April 1823), the daughter of Hercules du Preez and Martha du Preez (born du Preez).  Curiously the victim’s paternal aunt was wife to Charl Pieter du Plessis who ‘raped’ Elisabeth Viviers.[48]


Four incidents have been found in the records and each one differs insofar as the assailant or alleged assailant are either free-black (Jantje van Batavia), ‘Hottentot’(Hermanus), or slave (Lindor van Malabar & Cupido van Bengale).  All four victims were already pubescent or young women and likely promiscuous or consenting partners.  One was born in Europe (Adriana van Jaarsveld), two were Cape-born of European / white parentage (Anna Elisabeth Roleemo & Maria Domus) and the 4th one’s white ancestry is dubious – she is most likely to have been mixed race (Adriaantje Plooij).  The charges of rape in all three cases could not be made to stick.  The law did, however, prohibit (protect?) female Christians from interacting sexually with Heathens and Moors. Two of these young women were quickly married after their respective scandals.  Adriana van Jaarsveld ‘married up’, a man connected to the church and willing to do the ‘respectable thing’ for a ‘fallen’ woman.  They left the Cape in 1700. Adriaantje Plooij ‘married down’, a man of mixed race and similar background.  The fate of the other two young women is unknown.  Risie Jacobs: left the Cape with her parents.  Maria Domus is also likely to have left the Cape with her parents.

1681                Cupido van Bengale & Anna Elisabeth Roleemo

Cupido also sexually molested his master’s minor daughter whilst committing fornication and later adultery, with Anna Elisabeth Roleemo. The Cape-born daughter of Jan / Evert Roymerlo / Roleemo and Geertruijd Mentinghs: (from Hasselt), she was the stepdaughter of Dirk Bosch (from Amsterdam) and later to the drunk Johannes Pretorius (from Ouddorp).  She married at the Cape 6 September 1678 Jan van Leeuwarden who was the skipper op het schip de Elisabeth.  She appears to have escaped censure.This case has already been dealt with above. 

1694                Jantje van Batavia & Adriana van Jaarsveld

In 1694 the shepherd Jantje van Batavia, a manumitted slave and free-black, had sexual relations with Adriana van Jaarsveld, a girl aged thirteen living at the home of Jan’s employer in Drakenstein, the landdrost Jan Mulder and his wife.[49]  He had been the slave of Hans Erentraut and was freed de gewenschte en dierbare vrijheijt by the orphan masters at the age of 22 / 23 on 23 June 1688 in accordance with the wish expressed by his master before his death.  At his trial, the fiscal demanded death on the gallows, but Jantje, in self-defence, said that Adriaantje had been pregnant before he had sexual intercourse with her.  Having heard his defence, the Council of Justice decided that they would delay their final judgement until the child was born.  If the child was black, they would send Jantje to the gallows.  If white, as it happened to be, the sentence was to be commuted to flogging, branding and a life-time in chains … It was noted in December that:

Dezen Adriana van een blanck kind verlost zijnde, is de sententie verandert in geselen, brandmercken en ad vitam in de kettingh.

Though there was evidence of the girl’s general promiscuity, the court sentenced Jan to be scourged and sent in chains to Mauritius for 20 years’ hard labour.[50] Adriana van Jaarsveld’s origins, initially unknown, are now clarified. Also found as Adriana Hoffers:, she was the daughter of Catharina Hoffer / Hoffers: (from Dordrecht) who, at that time twice-widowed, had arrived at the Cape ex Ceylon [present-day Sri Lanka] and died at the Cape in 1691.  Her mother had 1st married Nicolaes Reijniersen van der Sande / Zande (from Middelburgh) who had died in Batavia, thereafter marrying 2ndly in  Rotterdam, Netherlands 27 October 1680 Aldert van Jaarsvelt, widower of Christina Joppe who subsequently died in Ceylon.  At the Cape her mother married 3rdly on 13 November 1689 the silversmith Bernhardus Mensing aka Christian Mentzing (from Herford in present-day North Rhine-Westphalia), dying soon after in 1691.

 Adriana was in the care of Jan Mulder and his wife and may well have been a ward of the Orphan Chamber. After the incident, she was hastily married on 9 January 1695.[51]  Within days of her marriage, she baptised a daughter named Johanna on 16 January 1695.[52] In September 1699, word was received from Mauritius concerning Jantje van Batavia.  He had petitioned the Cape authorities for clemency begging

… that he might be relieved of his chains, and received a very good character and strong recommendation. [53]

1741                the ‘Hottentot’ Hermanus & Ariaantje Plooy

She was Adriana Plooy, daughter of Simon (du) Plooy (from Krommenie) by his second wife Catharina Coopmans: who was the daughter of a Rotterdam orphan girl Engeltie / Engeltje Cornelisse van der Bout specially shipped out to the Cape in 1688 on the Berg China. The minor daughter of a deceased farmer, she was forced by threats of a ‘Hottentot’ Hermanus to give herself to him. Thereafter, she submitted several times of her own free will and she had a child by him. This illegal activity necessitated intervention by the Orphan Chamber and Council of Justice and the matter was heard by the Council of Justice and referred to the landdrost Pieter Lourensz:.

blad 10 Pupille gedefloreert, hoe gehandeld 1741.

22. Feb:[rua]rij En nademaal haar Eerw:ns uijt de gemeene gerugten is te vooren gekoomen. dat de minderjaarige Ariaantje Plooij door de eerloose conversatie met seekere Hottentot, nu ruijm vijf maanden geleeden een kind in ontugt had overgewonnen, soo is goedgevonden tot ontdeckinge van ‘t waare deesen saak deselve beneevens haar moeder Catharina Coopman wed:e Sijmon Plooij en broeder Willem Plooij onder welkers opsigte zij door deese Camer is besteed, teegens anstaande vergadering sullend zijn den 8 Maart bij missive voor ‘t collegie te ontbieden.

1741. 8. Maart de minderjaarige Ariaantje Plooij ingevolge de genoomene resolutie van den 22. den laast geweest maand Febr:ij met ene benewens haar moeder Catharina Copman wed:[duw]e Simon Plooij, en broeder Willem Plooij onder welkers opsigt zij door dese Camer is bestelt, op heeden ter vergadering verscheenen zijnde.

Soo wierd aan de eerste melde door de den Heer President afgevraagt, of zij volgende ter ooren deesen Camer gekoomen gemeene gerugte bij seekere Hottentot een kind in ontugt had overgewonnen als wanneer zij sulx geconfesseert hebbende, te kenne gaf, dat zij op seekere tijd haar in de thuijn bevindende den Hottentot Hermanus, doenmaals bij de wed:[duw]e Willem Rubeek[54] woonende, bij haar gekoomen was, ende haar door dreijgemente van haar te sullen vermoorden so ver gebragt hadde, dat zij sig aan zijne begeerte had overgeeven, en dus vleeselijk van hem bekent was, wissen dat zij beijde hunne vleeselijke conversatie nog drie agter een volgende dagen met den anderen gecontinueert hebbende zij Ariaantje Plooij haarselven vervolgens had bevonden van hem bevrugt te zijn, gelijk zij dat ook eijndelijk naar in de vijfde maand van haar swangergaan sulx aan haar voorengeciteerde moeder en broeder, die ‘t selve meede affirmeerden, bekend gemaakt te hebben, nu vijf maanden geleeden verlos was van ‘t door haar ter vergadering vertoont werdende kind, waar van zij constantelijk betuijge den voorn:[oemde] Hottentot Hermanus en geen ander de vader te zijn.

Soo is naar desen aangaande met rijpheijd van raaden gedelibereert, mitsg:[ade]rs aandagtelijk gepondereert te hebben ‘t groot gewigt van ‘t voorenstaande in alle zijne omstandigheeden.

Als Eerstelijk ten reguarde van ‘t bedreevene feijt door voorn:[oemde] Hottentot Hermanus, waar omtrent de Statute van India onder den Titul van Hoererij en overspel dicteeren: dat eenig heijden, moor, ofte andere onChristen persoon met een Christenvrouw getrouwt ofte ongetrouwt boeleerende, sonder eenige remissie met ‘er dood gestraft werden sal.

Ten tweeden ten respecte van gementioneerde Ariaantje Plooij: alsoo zij, veronderstelt dat door de voormelde drijgementen, haar voor de eerste rijse aan de wil van gesegde Hottentot had moeten onderwerpen, van die gedwonge daad nogthans ten eersten haade behooren kenisse te geeven aan haar moeder en broeder, maar geensints met hem nog den voorm: tijd ongetwijffelt met haar toestemminge die goddeloose conversatie te continueeren.

En ten laasten ten opsigte van veelgemelde moeder en broeder: ten saake deselve ‘t voorenstaande, schoon na den tijd van vijf maanden vernoomen hebbende sulx aan deese Camer sonder eenig verlet hadde moeten berigten in plaatse dat zijl: ‘t selve moedwilliglijk hebben versweegen, ende dus in haar verpligte respect omtrent dit Collegie als wettige oppervoogden van dikwels gem:[elde] Ariaantje Plooij grootelijx hebben gemancqueert, door haar, Eew:[ene]ns eenpariglijk goedgevonden en geresolveert alle ‘t voorenstaande aan den E:[dele] Agtb:[a]re Raad van Justitie deses gouverneur:s bij vertoogh voor te draagen, ende daarneevens haar E:[dele] agtb:[ar]e eerbiedig te versoeken dat ‘t derselver behagen mogte zijn, hierinne soodanig te disponeeren, als tot stuijtinge van diergelijken verfoeijelijk quaad, ende tot maintenue der eere en ontsagh van dit Collegie bevonden sal werden te behooren.[55]

Johannes the illegitimate son, fathered by the ‘Hottentot’ Hermanus, was born (1741) and baptized at Stellenbosch (14 January 1742):

[1742] januarij 14 Johannes de Vader Hermannus [sic] van de Caap de Moeder Adriana de Plooij getuijge Catharina Coopman.[56]

Thereafter she married (24 November 1743) Cornelis Vermeulen, illegitimate son of the Cape-born halfslag Jannetje Hans: Rutgertroost by Dirk Cornelisz: Vermeulen by whom she had eight legitimate children.[57]

1793                Lindor van Malabar & Maria Magdalena Domus

On 5 July 1793 the slaves of Pieter Domus caught the 22-year-old daughter of Pieter Domus and 26-year-old Lindor van Malabar in the kitchen in flagrante delictu. Lindor succeeded in persuading the court that their coupling had been at the instigation of Maria Magdalena Domus and that this had not been the first time.  He escaped the death penalty but was punished by being flogged under the gallows, branded and banished to Robben Island for life in chains to do forced labour.[58]  She was the daughter of Pieter Domus (from Middelburg), chief surgeon who married on 27 November 1763 Sara Hendrina de Wit (daughter Hans Peter Witt from the island of Röm and Johanna Schinke, wid. Johanna Christoffel Greve).  Was she the daughter baptised Maria Hendrina on 30 June 1771? Or did her parents have more children after the four mentioned in ‘De Villiers/Pama, one being named Maria Magdalena?


Only one married woman (Hester Jans: van de Caep) was formally tried, convicted and punished for committing adultery with a non-Christian.  Her ancestry has subsequently been clarified:  she was Eurasian, the daughter of Jan Zachariasz: (from Amsterdam) by his freed slave wife Maria van Bengale.  Her adulterous behaviour could not remain concealed in such a remote outpost as Mauritius and may well have come about at the instigation of her enraged husband.  What happened to her after she had served her sentence, is as yet unknown.  Only one other (Mrs Bruel – initially assumed to be European but subsequently identified as Deborah Willemse van de Caeb and of slave origin) was censured – and only by the church.  One woman’s adultery (Anna Elisabeth Roleemo) was merely a continuation of her illicit liaison prior to her marriageShe appears to have left the Cape.  She does not seem to have been officially upbraided for her scandalous and adulterous behaviour either before or after her marriage.  The other cases appear to have been alleged or slanderous (Cecilia du Preez) or were exposed following investigations into more serious crimes relating to the same woman (Maria Mouton).

1681                Anna Elisabeth Roleemo & Cupido van Bengale

Cupido also sexually molested his master’s minor daughter whilst committing fornication, and later adultery, with Anna Elisabeth Roolemo. This case has already been dealt with above. 

1691                Hester Jans: van de Caep & her unnamed slave

She was the Cape-born mulatta wife of the free-burgher Gerrit Jansz: van Ewijck at Mauritius.  Accused of mixing with her slave and living in adultery wegens sig met haer eijgen slaeft v:[er]mengd, en in overspel geleefd te hebben, she was sent to the Cape on the Berg China to be put on trial.[59]  The Council of Justice sentenced her to be tied to a pole and flogged and condemned her to a punishment of 5 years in chains in the public works to labour together with the other slave women:

Den E.[dele] A.[chtbare] raed etc:[eter]a doende regt & cond:[emneert]t de gedaegdesse om gebragt te werden ter plaetse daer men gewoon is criminele sententien t’executeren, om aldaer den scherpregter overgelevert, en aen een pael gebonden, met roeden welstrengelijck gegeesselt te werden, – band haer voor den tijd van 5 jaren aen de gemene wercken benevens E:[del]e Comp:[agnie]s Slavinnen t’arbeijden, mitsgaders inde costen ende wijse van Justitie.

What happened to her slave paramour, we are not told.  In all probability he met a harsher fate on Mauritius … Her husband, Gerrit Janse van Ewijck, left Mauritius (alone?) for Batavia in 1707. His estranged wife was purportedly the daughter of Jan Harmens: Woltering, alias Noordoos.[60] Lucretia van Bengale was Woltering’s wife.  It has subsequently been established that the Cape-born Hester Jans: was in fact the daughter of Jan Zachariasz: (from Amsterdam) by his freed slave wife Maria van Bnegale.

1714                Maria Mouton & Titus van Bengale

Maria Mouton was executed because she had murdered her husband with the aid of her slaves, one of whom she had seduced:[61]

… vrijwillig heeft geconfesseert en beleeden dat zij zoo wel bij ‘t leeven van haar man, als na zijn dood met haar slaaf Titus in concubinage heeft geleeft, dat ze zes maanden voor haars mans ombrengen met Titus geraadpleegd heeft, op wat wijse zijluijden haar man soude ombrengen.

 Shell describes the incident as follows:

“The most spectacular case of an interracial liaison was one in 1714 between the 24-year-old Maria Mouton from Middelburg in Zealand, who had a love affair with her slave, Titus of Bengal.  She, with Titus and several slave accomplices murdered her husband of eight years, Franz Joost of Lippstadt.  The Cape court sentenced Titus to be publicly impaled through the anus until death.  While impaled he was given a flask of rice brandy (arrack) by several onlookers, one of whom duly chided him lest he become too drunk.  The diarist recorded Titus’s sardonic answer:   “It did not matter as he sat fast enough and there was no fear of falling.”  The diarist of this event concluded:  “It is true that whilst sitting in that deplorable state, he often joked, and scoffingly said that he would never again believe a woman …”[62]

The 20-year-old Fortuin van Angola (slave of Frans Jooste), an accomplice, was sentenced to have his right hand cut off, to be broken on the wheel and to be decapitated.  Maria Mouton was to be garrotted (ie strangled to death) and the body to be impaled by a fork.  Maria Mouton (from Middelburgh) married 1706 Fransz Joost(e) (from Lippstadt).  He was murdered on 31 January 1714.  They had two children.

1716                Mrs van Bruel

In September 1716, the Drakenstein Church council concluded that “from widely circulating rumours, and despite repeated admonishments, it was clear that Van Bruel’s wife was living a very evil life een seer boos leeven met haren slaaf lijden with her slave.  She was consequently called before the church, and told that unless she desisted and sold the slave, she would be excluded from the communion.”  She reluctantly agreed to comply.  Her response: as her husband was having difficulty selling her slave paramour, would the Church be patient?[63] 

This woman, however, was of slave origin according to the notes drawn up by Dr J. Hoge featured in the thesis of Maria M. Marais entitled ‘Armesorg aan die Kaap onder die Kompanjie 1652-1795’ (Archives Year Book for South African History (1943).  Was this the reason the authorities were less harsh and effective in their remonstrations against her adulterous liaison with her slave? She was Deborah Willemse van de Caeb.  The daughter of the free-black Johannes Willemse van Bengale, she married 14 April 1765 the button-maker Franz Brende, alias Briel / Bril / Brul (from Bamberg), by whom she had 11 children. The (somewhat dysfunctional) family is featured as Brende in Hoge’s Personalia of the Germans at the Cape and as Briel in J.A. Heese and R.T.J. Lombard’s South African Genealogies.

1765                Mother of Johannes Stephanus Olivier – Cecilia du Preez, wife of Johannes Olivier    

In an altercation with Johannes Stephanus Olivier, it transpired that the notorious Carel Hendrik Buitendag had accused the former’s mother, Cecilia du Preez, of having sexual relations with slaves in a letter he had written to her.  Tempers flared at the farm of Cornelis Grobbelaar near the Koopmansrivier in the presence of witnesses.  Buitendag was adamant:  Ja, dat zeg ik nog dat jouw oude moer mijn slaven konkelt.[64]  Cecilia du Preez (baptised 14 May 1713) was the daughter of Philippe du Preez and Elisabeth Prévot and stepdaughter of Christian Gobrecht (from Magdeburg).  She was married to Johannes Olivier.  She died at Tulbagh on 11 April 1781.


The psychosexual racist logic arises from the phallic obsessions,

 Oedipal projections, and anal-sadistic orientations

 in European cultures which endow non-European

 (especially African men) and women with sexual prowess…

and identify non-Europeans (especially black people)

 with dirt, odious smells and faeces. [65]

When Kolbe[66] observes that white women at the Cape gave birth to non-white children and that they made their husbands believe that they had been frightened by some other ‘Hottentot’ or slave during their pregnancy, he confirms that the whole question of black male / white female interracial sex must have been taboo in the extreme. 

Carl Peter Thunberg, also known as Karl Peter von Thunberg, Carl Pehr Thunberg, or Carl Per Thunberg (11 November 1743 – 8 August 1828), Swedish naturalist and ‘apostle’ of Carl Linnaeus

Thunberg preferred to dwell on what happens afterwards:[67]

… The daughters of the colonists are sometimes with child by their father’s black slaves.  In this case, in consideration of a round some of money, a husband is generally provided for the girl; but the slave is sent away from that part of the country …

Sexual advances on the part of a male slave on his master’s wife were regarded as an affront in the extreme followed by commensurate punishment.  This is evident in the trial of Claas van Bengale, a slave belonging to Anne Marais and her husband François Rétif.[68]

Shell’s assessment on black male / white female interracial sexual contact (quoted hereunder) needs to be re-evaluated:[69]

“The earlier and very rare domestic liaisons between settler women and male slaves should not be regarded as evidence of racial fluidity in the colony, as some scholars suggest.  All such encounters were forbidden by statute, and the male perpetrator was harshly punished if and only if he was a black slave.  For example, the courts did not sentence any European settlers to death for concubinage with, or rape of, a female slave.  The same courts did, however, sentence many male slaves to banishment or death between 1658 and 1795 for the merest suggestion of a sexual advance against a settler woman.  Jan van Batavia, for example, who had made love to a settler girl, was sentenced to be scourged and banished to Mauritius, there to be chained for 20 years, while Mrs van Bruel, the amorous European settler woman who had lived a “very evil” life with her slave, was simply barred from Church communion for her transgressions.  The language of a 1705 death sentence for a Stellenbosch house slave who had an encounter with a European’s daughter discloses that the disparate status and race of the partners bore heavily against the accused slave in such liaisons, “and that [this crime was committed] by a black slave on a free girl of European breed &c.”.  The predominance of male slaves [i]in the colony, many of whom had little opportunity for heterosexual gratification and only some of whom had had daily domestic contact with settler women from childhood, no doubt increased the likelihood of such encounters.  That male slaves were housed separately from their owners was probably the main reason, but not the only one for the rarity of liaisons between white women and black men.”

Shell’s claims about the many prosecutions of slave men “for the merest suggestion of a sexual advance against a settler woman” cannot be reconciled with the very few convictions comprehensively compiled by Hans Heese for the entire 18th century and with those found during the 17th century.  In the afore-mentioned extract, Shell confuses male slaves with black men.  The free-black Jantje van Batavia is again mistakenly considered to still be enslaved at the time of his sentencing.  The incident in 1705 that Shell trivialises as an ‘encounter’, involved an attempted rape by a fugitive assailant.

In conclusion, there is a need to contextualise rape, sexual molestation or assault, punishment and the application of law and to distinguish carefully such incidents from consensual legal and illegal interracial unions.  Not only the legal status of both assailant and victim and of each consenting / non-consenting party, but also the nature and lawfulness of the sexual activity, the harm that followed and any additional culpability or aggravating circumstances on the part of the aggressor.  Regarding lawfully recognised unions and tolerated concubinage, factors such as propinquity, the soort-soek-soort or birds-of-a-feather-flock-together principles, familial dysfunctionality, respectability and social acceptance (or lack thereof), all need to be considered.  Only then can any meaningful deductions be made about any apparent irregularity concerning at least the recorded sexual activity between white women and black men during the VOC’s colonial occupation of the Cape of Good Hope

Before embarking on such a study, it may also help to consider the following summary of inherently (racially?) discriminatory Roman-Dutch Law principles pertaining to the VOC-occupied Cape:

  • The legal basis of Dutch society in general is an amalgam of Roman Law, Germanic Common Law & Judæo-Christian Canon Law.
  • Civil society in the Dutch colonies consisted of three categories of legal subjects: free persons (imported or indigenous), slaves (imported or locally born of slave parents) and a concessionary category of freed persons (former slaves).
  • The established faith was Christian but the established church was Protestant and Reformed.
  • The rest of the world was regarded as being either Jewish or Mohammedan (Moors) and the remainder (including the Chinese) as being ‘unenlightened’, ie Heathen or Pagan, whose testimony was inadmissible.
  • Christians were ipso facto free.
  • Christians had to be baptised and sufficiently culturally Netherlandised free persons (Europeans or creole / Cape-born whites), free-born persons (generally colonised indigenes & later the offspring of freed persons), or freed persons (former slaves now manumitted).
  • Marriage was non-polygamous and only legal between a Christian man and Christian woman (irrespective of any racial or ethnic background).
  • Marriage was initially exclusively an ecclesiastical institution, the legality of which was later secularised requiring recognition by civil authorities.
  • Marriage no longer had to be performed in church to be legal. (Lutherans, Mennonites and Roman Catholics, for example, could marry legally at the Cape on obtaining permission from the Commissioner of Matrimonial Affairs, usually an officer of the Council of Justice) – permission, however, initially was subject to ecclesiastical approval (eg proof of baptism and confirmation).
  • Marriage between Christians and Jews and Christians and Muslims, were not legally recognised.
  • Slaves as unfree people had no right to legal marriage but were encouraged to ‘marry’ inter se.
  • Non-Christian or culturally alien marriages between slaves (eg Muslim, Hindu, polygamous or indigenous African / Asian), although encouraged and unofficially tolerated, had no legality.
  • Morality & Immorality were legally regulated and derived from Canon Law (eg at one stage sex between a Christian and a Jew qualified as bestiality, ie sex with an animal) 
  • Extra-marital intimacy (incest, adultery, concubinage, whoredom, fornication, sex between Christians and non-Christians, sodomy and bestiality) were outlawed.[70]

Theory and practice (political application) in Occidental law, however, do not necessarily coincide.  For example, the sexual availability of Christian women was severely curtailed, the same cannot be said for Christian men;[71] likewise, the protracted inability of Christianity to embrace initially the ‘Hottentots’ and the consistent mishandling of these people as the antithesis of the ‘noble savage’.[72]  White Christians and (non-white) vrij geborenen – whether Christianised or not – were ‘equal’ in the eyes of the law, but socially and politically, they were worlds apart.

Iago:      … Now, sir, be judge yourself

Whether I in any just term am affin’d

To love the Moor …

William Shakespeare, Othello, The Moor of Venice

[1] This reference is to Dr J.A. Heese (1907-1990) author of Die Herkoms van die Afrikaner and compiler of South African Genealogies.

[2] Shell & Elphick (pp. 199 & 235, no.  58) state that she was 14  [sic] years old.  Shell perpetuates this inaccuracy in his later work (1994), Children of Bondage, pp. 316-317.  The court record [Cape Archives (CA): CJ 3: (Criminal & Civil Cases, 22 November 194), p. 52] states that she was 13 years old in 1694.  The event happened in 1694 – not 1695 as stated incorrectly by Shell.  Relying on his original work with Richard Elphick of 1979 & 1989], he incorrectly states that Jantje van Batavia was still a slave and living at the house of his master when the event happened.  At the time of the incident, Jantje van Batavia had already been manumitted and was a free-black working as shepherd for the landdrost Jan Mulder and living at his employer’s place.

[3] See p. 318.

[4] Oxford Dictionary definition.

[5] Hans F. Heese, Groep sonder Grense, pp. 6 & 14.

[6] The racial make-up of Anna Elisabeth Zeeman [more correctly Seemann] however, is suspect.  Her mother, Hendrina Engela, is more likely to have been of mixed race.  Significantly her sister, Maria Susanna Seemann, also married a man of colour.  He was Frederik Ziegelaar van de Caep.

[7] Firstly, he married de facto Elisabeth Jacobs: van de Caep.  She was the daughter of Jan Jacobsen & Anna Agnetha Pieterson.  Her father was the son of the free-black woman, Maria van Angola, by an unknown (black?) father.  Her mother was the manumitted daughter of a European father, Andreas Peters (from Lübeck) by an unknown slave woman [possibly the Cape-born mesties Maria Pieters:].  Secondly, he married on 2 April 1751 the Cape-born Cornelia van Wyk who was of white parentage.  Thirdly, he married on 22 August 1756 Aletta Booysen (the daughter of the Cape-born white father, Dirk Booysens, and a mother of (as yet) unknown origin, Aletta Harmens:).

[8] Christen = Christian.

[9] Onchristen = non-Christian.

[10] Vrij geboren = free-born and never enslaved (refers generally to swartes – indigenes, East Asian political exiles & to offspring of liberated slaves).  Such a person was not the same as a free-black, although s/he would easily and often (even purposely) be mis-identified as being vrij zwart.

[11] Vrij zwart = manumitted or liberated from slavery having ostensibly the same legal status as free-burghers.  Sub-groups also existed, eg vrij Chinees & vrij caffer.

[12] Lijfeijgen or slaaf = slave.

[13] Heelslagh = full caste or full-blood (refers generally to non-white slaves having no white admixture).  These were further distinguished inter alia as neger, caffer, Indisch, Chinees etc.

[14] Halfslagh = half-caste.

[15] Mestiço or mesties = half-caste (refers generally to child of a white father and an Asian slave mother).

[16]  Mulatto = half-caste (refers generally to a child of a white father and a ‘Black African’ / ‘Negro’ / ‘Bantu’ slave mother).

[17]  Kastiço or kasties = child of a mesties or mulatto slave mother and white father.

[18] Bastaard = child of a white father & ‘Hottentot’ / ‘Bushman’ mother.

[19] Bastaard Hottentot = child of a ‘Hottentot’ / ‘Bushman’ mother & (African / Negro / Bantu or Asian) slave father.

[20] Hottentot = Cape indigene known as Quena / Khoena / Koina.

[21] Bosjesman = ‘Bushmen’ / Sa(a)n and also ‘Hottentots’ who have been Bushmanised (ie ‘Hottentot’ minus their livestock and hunted down as ‘Bushmen’).

[22] See my recent blog Did the Cape slave-born son of Armozijn Claes: accompany W.A. van der Stel to the Netherlands in 1707? https://wordpress.com/post/mansellupham.wordpress.com/3900

[23] See J.L.M. Franken, ‘Willem Willemsen, van Deventer: Die avontuurlike lewensloop van ‘n Riebeeckse vryburger’, Standpunte, Nuwe Reeks 14 XI, nr. 2 Oct.-Nov. 1956; Esmé: Bull, ‘An Anomaly in the Olivier Family’, Familia , XXIII, no 3 (1986), pp. 46-53; Margaret Cairns, ‘Armosyn Claas of the Cape and her Family 1661-1783 [sic]’, Familia, vol. XVI, no. 4 (1979), pp. 84-99 & M.G. Upham, ‘Armosyn Revisited’, Capensis, no. 2 (2000), pp. 19-33; Mansell George Upham, ‘Hell and Paradise … Hope on Constantia / De Hel en Het Paradijs … De Hoop op Constantia’: Jan Grof (died ante 1700) and his extended family at the Cape of Good Hope – a glimpse into family, household, patriarchy, matriarchy, bondage, marriage, concubinage, adultery, bastardy, métissage, manumission, propinquity and consanguinity in 17th century Dutch South Africa before slavery’s abolition, the weakening of kinship and emergence of the modern nuclear family: http://www.e-family.co.za/ffy/RemarkableWriting/UL04DeHoopOpConstantiaJanGrof.pdf.

[24] M.G. Upham, Capensis, ‘Missing Drakenstein Chuch Registers’,no. 1 (1997), p. 13 & J.A. Heese, ‘Verlore Trouboek van die gemeente Drakenstein, Paarl’, Familia, no. 4 (1977), p. 81.

[25] M.G. Upham, ‘In Hevigen woede…Part I: Groote Catrijn: Earliest recorded female bandiet at the Cape of Good Hope – a study in upward mobility’, Capensis, no. 3 (1997), pp. 8-33; Part II: Christoffel Snijman: his curious origins and ambiguous position in early Cape colonial society’, Capensis, no. 4 (1997), pp. 29-35.

[26] M.G. Upham, ‘Maaij Ansela and the black sheep of the family: A closer look at the events surrounding the first execution of a vrij burgher in Cape colonial society for the murder of a non-European’, Capensis, no. 4 (1997) pp. 4-18, (1998), nos. 1 (pp. 22-35, 2 (pp. 26-39), 3 (pp. 21-28) & 4 (pp. 37-40) (1998), (1999), nos. 1 (pp. 38-40) & 2 (pp. 27-38).

[27] Subsequently thought to be Maria van Angola, a former slave of the Cape’s 1st VOC commander Jan van Riebeeck and also likely to have been the same person found recorded as Maria van Goa.

[28] J.A. Heese, ‘’n Paar Aantekeninge by die Kwartierstaat van Paul Kruger’, Familia,  vol. VI, no. 1 (1969), pp. 19-20 & John Muir, ‘Steyn – Die Stamboom van ‘n Afrikaner-Familie’, Familia,  vol. V, no. 4 (1968), vol. VI, nos. 1 & 2 (1969), pp. 11-13 & 43-48.

[29] G.C. de Wet, Die Vryliede en Vryswartes in die Kaapse Nedersetting 1657-1707, p. 212.

[30] See J.A. Heese & R.T.J. Lombard, South African Genealogies, vol. I, p. 523.

[31] J.L.M. Franken, Die Hugenote aan die Kaap, p. 172; M.G. Upham, ‘At War with society … Did God hear? … – the curious baptism in 1705 of a ‘Hottentot’ infant named Ismael, Capensis, pp. 29-51.

[32] Harry Booyens, ‘Pierre de Cabrières and Pierre de Belle Etoile’, Familia (September 2012) – baptism for Maria & her mother’s names given by Booyens, however, are incorrect and have been corrected by Delia Robertson, First Fifty Years Project.

[33] M.G. Upham, ‘Maaij Ansela and the black sheep of the family: A closer look at the events surrounding the first execution of a vrij burgher in Cape colonial society for the murder of a non-European’, Capensis, no. 4 (1997) pp. 4-18, (1998), nos. 1 (pp. 22-35, 2 (pp. 26-39), 3 (pp. 21-28) & 4 (pp. 37-40) (1998), (1999), nos. 1 (pp. 38-40) & 2 (pp. 27-38).

[34] Just like the name Mumbai has been rendered phonetically as Bombay, the possibility exists that Bombassa is a phonetic ‘corruption’ / alternative to Mombassa.

[35] Margaret Cairns, ‘Gerrit Gerrits of Oldenburg and Susanna of Bombaser – An early 18th century couple’, Familia , vol. XVII, nos. 3/4 (1980), pp. 49-56.

[37] J.A. Heese & R.T.J. Lombard, South African Genealogies, vol. I, p. 596.

[36] J.A. Heese, ‘Die Hollandse Weesmeisies’, Familia, vol. XIII, no. 3 (1976), p. 71. 

[38] CA:  CJ 4(I) Oorspronklike regsrolle en Notule, Landdros Starrenburg contra Jacob van die Kus Coromandel, 22.5.1705, 4.6.1705 en 6.6.1705, pp. 200, 205 & 207; 1/STB 3/8 Verklarings en Pleidooie, Krimineel, ondervraging van Jacob, 2.5.1705; 1/STB 18/54 Notariële verklaringe, 11.5.1705; CJ 782, Vonnis van Jacob van Coromandel 6.6.1705, fol. 4; Hans F. Heese, Reg en Onreg, p. 98; J. Leon Hattingh, ‘Beleid en Praktyk: Die doop van slawekinders en die sluit van gemengde huwelike verhoudings aan die Kaap voor 1720’, Kronos, vol. 5 (1982), p. 40. Robert Shell (Children of Bondage, pp. 319-320 & n. 139) mentions this incident involving Jacob van de Coromandel Cust and Hilletje Smits: but does not mention the victim by name.

[39]  CA: CJ 5 Oorspronklike Regsrolle en Notule, Fiskaal contra Robbert van Batavia, 24.1 1.1712, fol. 83; CJ 782, Sententien, 24.11.1712, fol. 51; J. Leon Hattingh, ‘Beleid en Praktyk: Die doop van slawekinders en die sluit van gemengde huwelike verhoudings aan die Kaap voor 1720’, Kronos, vol. 5 (1982), p. 40; Robert Shell, Children of Bondage, p. 317; Hans F. Heese, Reg en Onreg, pp. 99 & 251.

[40] Mansell G. Upham, ‘Neeltje Olivier (1695-1713?)’, Capensis, no. 1 (2001).

[41] CA: CJ 785, 21 vonnis van Abel van Timor, 4.8.1729; Hans F. Heese, Reg en Onreg, pp. 99 & 160.

[42] See Mansell G. Upham, ‘Maaij Ansela and the black sheep of the family, Capensis, no. 2 (1999), p. 28, n. 5.

[43] CA: CJ 785, 31 (2.10.1732 – 4.10.1732); Richard Elphick & Robert Shell, ‘Intergroup Relations, 1652-1795’ in Richard Elphick & Hermann Giliomee, The Shaping of South African Society 1652-1840, p. 200; Hans F. Heese, Reg en Onreg, pp. 99 & 207-208.

[44] CA: CJ 791 (14.5.1767-16.7.1767); Hans F. Heese, Reg en Onreg, pp. 101-102 & 225-226.

[45] CA: CJ 2 (Cri. and Civ. Cases, 1674-1688), 3.2.1681, p. 152;  CJ 780 (Sententien), 3.2.1681, fol. 192; Anna J. Böeseken, Slaves and Free Blacks at the Cape 1658-1700, p. 43; Donald Moodie, The Record, p.  384; Marius Valkhoff, ‘Miscegenation in South Africa in the seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries’, pp. 99-118 (translated from the German original of the late Dr. J. Hoge, University of Stellenbosch) New Light on Afrikaans-Malayo-Portuguese (Gelelmus Peeters, Impunice Orientale, Louvain 1972), p. 115; J. Leon Hattingh, ‘Beleid en Praktyk’, p. 39; M.G. Upham, ‘Maaij Ansela‘, p. 37.

[46] Shell & Elphick (p. 199); Hans Heese, Reg en Onreg, pp. 98 & 168.  Heese confuses the name Jourdan with Joubert.

[47] CJ 789, 2, 18.6.1761 – 20.6.1761; Hans F. Heese, Reg en Onreg, pp. 99-100 & 220-221.

[48] J.L.M. Franken, Die Hugenote aan die Kaap, pp. 169-170 & Familia, vol. X, no. 4 (1973), pp. 99-100.

[49] Johannes Mulder arrived at the Cape in 1682 as soldier on Geele Beer.  He married on 13 December 1682:  Johannes Mulder, jonkman soldaat van Rotterdam en Jacoba Legelaer, jongedochter uyt s’Gravenhage.  [Böeseken mentions her as Jacoba Kicheler from Den Haag].  On 28 November 1684 he was appointed winckelier and promoted (together with Jan Hendrick Blum) to guarnisoen boechouder.  Thereafter he was landdrost, free-burgher, church elder and surveyor (1687-1689).

[50] CA: CJ 297 Criminele Processtukke: Verklaring van Adriana van Jaarsveld, 27.8.1694, pp. 799-806; Verklaring van Jan van Batavia, 2.9.1694, pp. 807-819; Klagstaat teen Jan van Batavia, 22.11.1694, pp. 775-783; CJ 3 (Oorspronklike Regsrolle en Notule, Fiskaal teen Jantje van Batavia, 22. 11.1694), fol. 51 verso 52; CJ 780, Sententien, 28.5.1695, fol. 246; Anna J. Böeseken, Slaves and Free Blacks at the Cape 1658-1700, pp. 92-93 & 153; J. Leon Hattingh, ‘Beleid en Praktyk’, pp. 39-40; Floors A. van Jaarsveld, Van Stamvader Adriaan to Ernst Jacobus van Jaarsveld 1702-1986 – ‘n Stukkie familiegeskiedenis van onder (Published Privately: Pretoria 1987), pp. 10-11; G. Con de Wet, Die Vryliede en Vryswartes in die Kaapse nedersetting 1657-1707, p. 213; Robert Shell, Children of bondage, p. 316.  Shell incorrectly states 1695 [sic] as the year – it was 1694.

[51] The marriage entry reads as follows: Mahiu de Ryke van Ligterveld, weduwenaer met Adriana van Jaarsveld van Rotterdam.

[52] The baptismal entry reads as follows:  anno 1695  16 Januar:[ie] een kind van Adriana Jaersveld, genaemt Johanna, getuijgen Mahiu de Rijke en Aeltje Claesje van  Ameijde.

[53] H.C.V. Leibbrandt, Précis of the Archives of the Cape of Good Hope: Letters Received, p. 213 (Letter no. 78, p. 393 From Mauritius).

[54] Susanna Visser(s): alias Susanna Elber(t)s: born 1694; daughter of Maria van Negapatnam by Johannes Coenraed: Visser (from Ommen [Overijssel]); baptized Stellenbosch 11 April 1700 [Susanna dochter van de meijdt van Juffrou Elbers [Elberts:] [Geertruida Elberts: Mrs Wessel Pretorius], de getuigen Gertruij Elbers: [Elberts:], ijs gedoop den 11 Aprijel 1700]; marries (1stly) Hans Heinrich Hattingh (from Speyer), widower of Marie Lanoy (from Aulus), widow of Ary Lecrévent (Arie Lekkerwijn); farmer at Spier; dies c. 1729; marries (2ndly) 10 February 1732 Wilhelm (Willem) Rubeck [Rube / Rubeek] (from Wesel) [Mansell Upham, ‘Hell and Paradise … Hope on Constantia De Hel en Het Paradijs … De Hoop op Constantia Jan Grof (died ante 1700) and his extended family at the Cape of Good Hope – a glimpse into family, household, patriarchy, matriarchy, bondage, marriage, concubinage, adultery, bastardy, métissage, manumission, propinquity and consanguinity in 17th century Dutch South Africa before slavery’s abolition, the weakening of kinship and emergence of the modern nuclear family’ (First Fifty Years Project, February 2012):

http://www.e-family.co.za/ffy/RemarkableWriting/UL04DeHoopOpConstantiaJanGrof.pdf ].

[55] CA: MOOC 5/1 blad No. 10 (Pupillen gedefloreert,hoe gehandeld) transcribed by Mansell Upham; CA: CJ 2511 [Old no. CJ 807] (Requesten) no. 7 (Memorial to Governor Ryk Tulbagh from Orphan Chamber, 16 March 1741); Marius Valkhoff, ‘Miscegenation in South Africa in the seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries’, pp. 99‐118 (translated from the German original of the late Dr. J. Hoge, University of Stellenbosch), New Light on Afrikaans‐Malayo‐Portuguese (Gelelmus Peeters, Impunice Orientale, Louvain 1972), p. 115; Mansell Upham, ‘Keeping the gate of Hell … subliminal racism & early Cape carnal conversations between black men & white women’, Capensis, 2001/1, pp. 16‐43.

[56] https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH‐267‐12336‐17694‐98?cc=1478678&wc=11570159 & http://www.ballfamilyrecords.co.uk/bosmandevriesbuys/I263.html.

[57] Mansell Upham, ‘Who is Jannetje Rutgertroost?’, Fifty Years Project (2012): http://www.e-family.co.za/ffy/RemarkableWriting/UL30JannetjeRutgertroost.pdf.

[58] CA: CJ 796, 23 Vonnis van Lindor van Malabar, 7.10.1793; Hans Heese, Reg en Onreg, pp. 100 & 230.

[59] CA: CJ 3 Crim. and Civ. Cases 1689-1696, 14.9.1691, p. 51; Anna J. Boeseken, Slaves and Free Blacks at the Cape 1652-1700, p. 43. 

[60] Dan Sleigh – personal communication.

[61] Marius Valkhoff, ‘Miscegenation’, p. 115.

[62] CA: CJ 783, 3 (30.8.1714 – 1.9.1714); Marius Valkhoff, ‘Miscegenation’, p. 115; Robert Shell, Children of Bondage, p.  317; Hans F. Heese, Reg en Onreg, pp. 39-40, 143, 198 & 265.

[63] C. Spoelstra, Bouwstoffen voor de Gescjhiedenis der Nederduitsch-Geref. Kerken in Zuid-Afrika, vol. 2, p. 431; Robert C.-H. Shell, Children of Bondage, pp. 317-8 & 319; Pieter Coertzen, Die Hugenote van Suid-Afrika 1688-1988 p. 100.

[64] CA: 1/STB, vol. 685 / 686 (old) (Notarial declarations), vol. 18/162 (new) (20 April 1765 (1760-1779); Marius Valkhoff, ‘Miscegenation’, p. 114.

[65] The Sunday Times (19 February 1999) reporting on the enquiry by the Commission for Human Rights into ‘racism in the media’ and quoting Claudia Braude quoting Cornel West’s contentious definition of ‘subliminal racism’.

[66] Marius Valkhoff, ‘Miscegenation’, p. 114.

[67] Marius Valkhoff, ‘Miscegenation’, p. 114.

[68] See the chapter entitled ‘Die verhaal van Anna Marais en die slaaf Claas van Bengale’ by Celestine Pretorius, Al Laggende en pratende:  Kaapse vroue in die 17de en 18de eeu, pp.41-43.

[69] Robert Shell, Children of Bondage, pp. 319-320.

[70] The criminalisation and juristic / judicial condemnation of ‘unnatural’ practices / acts or sexual offences between males were biblically derived.  These are already featured in the lex Julia de adulteriis which imposed the death penalty.  In addition, such acts were expressly proscribed by Justinian in his Novels.  Roman-Dutch jurists lumped all unnatural offences together under the title Sodomie, Onkuisheid tegen de natuur or venus monstrosa.  A discernible pre-occupation with punishment took precedence over the niceties of definition. The concept of unnatural acts appears to have covered a multitude of sins, as it were.  Sodomy and bestiality (often collectively known as buggery), as they are understood today, were not separate crimes: these were simply ways op committing venus monstrosa.   The crime was constituted by the ‘gratification of sexual lust in a manner contrary to the order of nature’.  Jurists were not ad idem as to what all fell within the ambit of unnatural acts.  That the concept was highly relative is confirmed by the fact that at one stage jurists such as Joost de Damhouder (1507-81) & Carpzovius (1595-1666), opined that even ordinary sexual relations between Jews and Christians were punishable acts qualifying as sodomie. (see J.R.L. Milton,   Hunt: South African Criminal Law and Procedure Vol. II:  Common-Law Crimes (Juta, Cape Town 1982), p. 268).

[71] The writer is currently working on an enquiry into the prosecution of concubinage at the Cape for the same period covered in this article.

[72] M.G. Upham, ‘At War with Society … Did God hear? … the curious baptism of a ‘Hottentot’ infant named Ismael‘, Capensis, no. 4 (2000), pp. 29-51.


1st Marriage between a Cape indigene and a European (1664) – Krotoa of the Goringhaicona and the Dane Peter Meerhoff

by Mansell Upham

2 June 1664 (Monday)

 Eva, born Krotoa (c. 1643-1674), marries Peter Meerhoff (c. 1637-1668) from Copenhagen, Denmark, at the Fort De Goede Hoop following their engagement (12 April 1664).

This is the 4th mixed marriage at the Cape of Good Hope and the very 1st recorded marriage between a Cape indigene of the Goringhaicona clan and a European at the Cape of Good Hope:

“… It being the 2nd Pentecost, the surgeon, Pieter van Meerhoff, and the interpretress, Eva (born of Hottentoo parents, but afterwards reared in the house of Mr van Riebeeck), were married here in the hall, whereupon, according to the promise of the lately departed (16 April 1664) Commissioner, Dircq Steur [Dirck Janssen Steur], a little marriage feast was given in the Commander’s house [Zacharias Wagenaer / Wagner from Dresden in Germany – 2nd VOC commander at the Cape of Good Hope].”

[H.C.V. Leibbrandt, Précis of the Archives of the Cape of Good Hope, Wagenaer’s Journal, p. 111]

Dirck Janssen Steur

Dirck Janssen Steur rises quickly in the Dutch East India Company (VOC) ranks:

  • serving in Burma [Myanmar] (December 1635);
  • junior merchant (ondercoopman) (1637);
  • merchant (coopman) (1640);
  • vice-president of Council of Justice (1650);
  • raad extraordinaris of India (1651);             
  • active on the Coromandel Coast (November 1651) negotiating with the Moghul vizier at Golconda Mir Jumla II (1591-30 March 1663) (مير جملا), subahdar of Bengal under Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb;
  • president of Council of Justice, Batavia (1653);
  • sits (November 1656) on Council of Justice at Batavia [Jakarta, Java, Indonesia] during trial of private slave (sentenced to death but pardoned and later banished for life to the Cape as a Company slave and pardoned yet again) Catharina (Groote Catrijn) van Paliacatta (c. 1631-1683) for killing her slave lover Claes van Malabar
  • raad ordinaris of India (1657)
  • stops over (1661) at the Cape of Good Hope witnessing (28 April 1661) the following baptism: 
                    Den 28:en d:[it]o [April 1661] heeft dom:e [Johannis] Doncker
  • een predikatie gedaen, ende gedoopt het kint, van den opperkoopman, De Langhe, bescheiden op ‘t schip genaemt Dordrecht van wegen de kamer van Delfft, ende is genaemt, Volckera Elijsabeth de getuigen zijn d’ e: heer Dirck Steur ordinaris raet van India, ende Elijsabeth van Berckel m:e vrou van Haemstee, Godt de Heere geeft dat dit gedoopte kint tot zijne naems eere mach opwassen; and
  • admiral of return fleet (December 1663-August 1664) stopping over at the Cape of Good Hope as VOC Commissioner (31 March-16 April 1664) sailing on the Oranje
Sketch of a Cape indigene [Khoe] woman by Lady Anne Barnard, née Lindsay (8 December 1750 – 6 May 1825) – Scottish travel writer, artist, socialite, and author of the ballad Auld Robin Gray whose five-year residence at the Cape of Good Hope had a significant impact on the cultural and social life of the time

Joint Will of the Free-Blacks Arend van Balij and Rosetta van Bengaalen (1747)

48                                                         [signed] P.J. Slotsboo                                                                    

Transcribed verbatim by Mansell Upham


In den Name Godes Amen

Een ieder dien ‘t soude mogen aangaan, Zij kennelijk bij den Inhoude van desen Teegenwoordigen openbaaren Instrument, dat op huijden in den Jaar naar de geboorte onses Heijlands ende Saligmaker Jesu Christi Een Duijsend Seven hondert Seeven en veertig op den agsten dag den Maand Decemb:[e]r des middags de Klocke Elf Uuren, voor mij Petrus Jesse Slotsboo Eerste geswoore Clercq ter Politicque Secretarije alhier aan Cabo de goede hoop, in de tegenwoordigheid van de naargen:[oem]de getuijgen in Eijgenen person verscheenen Zijn, den Vrijswarte Arend van Balij en Rosetta van Bengaalen Egte Luijden, mij Eerste Clercq ende getuijgen wel bekend sijnde beijde gesond van Lichaam, mitsg[ade]rs: hun verstand, Sinnen en uijtspraak ten vollen magtende gebruijkende, gelijk sulx onder ‘t passeren deeser is gebleeken, dewelke te kannen gaaven, dat naar dien bij hun in overweging was gewonnen, de magtigheijd des menselijken Leevens, de sekerheijd des doods, benevens de ongewisse tijd en Uure van ‘t Sterven, Sij Lieden dieshalven te raads geworden waaren, voor ende al aen dit vergankelijke teegens de Eeuwigheijd quamen te verwisselen, over hunne door den heeren goedheijd verkreegene goederen in dier gen te disponeeren als hieronder Sal worden gesagt, getuijgende sulx te doen uijt Vrij en onbedwongen gemoed, Sonder Inductie ofte persuatie van iemand ter weereld.

Naar Christelijke Recommendatie dan van Siel ende lighaam Soo verklaarden de Testateuren mits deesen te herroepen en vernietegen alle soodanige Testamenten, Codicillen ofte andere diergelijke maakingen als door haar;[e]n l[aas]:t[elij]ken beijde te samen, dan wel [inserted ieder] in’t Bijsonder voor ‘t verleiden deeses mogten wel sou opgeregt, en principalik soodanige dispositie als door de Testatrice op den dertigsten Maij 1739, voor den wijlen den doenmaligen Secretaris van Justitie dese gouvernements S:[ieu]r Daniel Godfried Carnspek en Seekere getuijgen is gepasseert, als niet begeerende, dat deselve van de minste Kragt of waarde gehouden, maar als nooijt gepasseert sullen moeten [deleted – gehoorden][inserted – aangemerkt] werden.

Weshalven nu de novo disponereende, Soo verklaarden de Testateuren voor af te Legateeren aan de diaconij Armen deese Steede de Somma van Vijftien guldens Indische valuatie, om waar ‘t overleijden van [deleted Een van] hun bijden uijtgekeert te warden.-

 Betuijgende de Testateuren verders uijt hooft der wederseijtsche geneegentheijd malkanderen over ende weeder over te weeten den Eerst Stervende den Langstlevende van hun beijden te verkiesen ende aan te stellen tot sijne ofte hare eenige en Universeele Erfgenaam in all de naar te laatene goederen, Soo roerende des onroerende, hebbende ofte nog te verkrijgene, gene uijtgesondert, Soodanig als deselve door den Eerst Stervende aan den langsleevende met ter dood sullen worden ontruijmt ende naargelaaten, omme bijden langsleevende voor altoos als vrij enijgen goed passeert te werden, sonder iemands teegen  seggen: dog was de begeerte van de Testateuren dat haar Slaave Jongen gen:[aam]t Anthonij van Mallebaar niet sal mogen werden verkogt, maar naar hun beijder overleijden met believen der overigheijd alhier, in Vrijdom moeten worden gesteld. –

Wijders betuijgende de Testatrice Schoon zij sig van haare geweesene Lijfvrouw Rosetta van Boegis heeft vrij gekogt, egter [inserted – bij deesen] aan hare natelaatene Kinderen te Saamen Een Sommetje van Vijf en twintig R[i]x[daalders] à 48 s:[waer]s[tuiwer]s, te vermaaken, voor en in plaatse van ‘t geen hun andersints uijt hare nalaatenschap soude Competeeren, als betuijgende ‘t selve Soo ruimen genomen te hebben als haar tegenwoordig besit Leijden kan.

En dewijl de Testateuren malkanderen ook quaamen aan te stellen tot Executor ofte Executrice van dese hunne dispositie, Soo begeerden sij oversulx met, dat sig iemand anders met hunnen boedel ofte nalatenschap soude bemoeijen, Secludeerende ten dien alle Magistraats persoonen, dewelke sulx uijt hoogte van haer officie souden kunnen ofte willen doen, en wel Speciaalijk Heeren Weesmeesteren deese plaatse haar E.E:[del]e voor dies andersints te neemene moeijte beloofdelik dan te seggende bij deesen.

Alle ‘t gene voorsz; Staat de Testateuren van woorde to woorde klaar en duijdelik voorgelesen sijnde, soo betuijgden sij, ‘t selve te weesen [deleted – den] hun testament, Laaste en uijtterste wille, met begeerte, dat ‘t daarvoor valideeren en Effect sorteeren sal, ‘t v:[oor]z: als Testament, Codicil, gifte ter Saake des doods ofte soodanig als best naar Regten sal kunnen bestaan, alwaar ‘t schoon, dat eenige noodsaaklijke Solemniteijten waaren geommitteerd, dewelke als geinsoreert houdende, ten dien eijnde de verclaarde ‘t uijtterste beneficium des Regtens

Dat Aldus passeerende aan Cabo de goede hoop op jaar, maand, dag en uure voorz: in tegewoordigheijd der Jeremias Auret en Dirk Arents:

Als getuijgen

[signed] Jerem:[ia]s Auret

[signed] D:[ir]k Arents

Dit is X het merk

Van Arend van baly

Dit merk   X   is door rosetta

Van Bengalen gesteld

In Kennisse van my

[signed] PJ Slotsboo

E:[eerste]g:[eswore] Clercq

Cape Archives (CA): Council of Justice (CJ) 2658 (Joint Will: Arend van Balij & Rosetta van Bengaalen, 8 December 1747), no. 48
CA: CJ 2658 (Joint Will: Arend van Balij & Rosetta van Bengaalen, 8 December 1747), no. 48
CA: CJ 2658 (Joint Will: Arend van Balij & Rosetta van Bengaalen, 8 December 1747), no. 48

Afrikaans Version of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 58

Saint Martin and the Beggar by El Greco

Translated into Afrikaans by Mansell Upham, Tokyo (24 May 2021)

God verhoed as ek eers aan jou verslaaf is.

Hoort ek bewustelik jou lustye te beheer,

Of handsgewys die ure te soebat,

Vasaalversot om jou lostye te verhoed!

O, laat ek swoeg, ontbied my,

die vasgevange verdwyning van jou vryheid;

En geduld, lydinglos, verduur elke berisping,

Sonder om jou aan te kla vir besering.

Maar waar jy lus, jou handves so volmagtig

Jy kan self jou tyd oorheersend

bevoorreg;  jy’t alle reg om jouself

van misdaad self-plegend kwyt te skeld.

Ek’s hier om te dien – wagstaan is alle hel,

Nimmer jou bevredeging te verwyt, al is dit sleg of wel.

‘The Dying Slave’ by Michelangelo

That god forbid that made me first your slave,

I should in thought control your times of pleasure,

Or at your hand the account of hours to crave,

Being your vassal, bound to stay your leisure!

O, let me suffer, being at your beck,

The imprison’d absence of your liberty;

And patience, tame to sufferance, bide each cheque,

Without accusing you of injury.

Be where you list, your charter is so strong

That you yourself may privilege your time

To what you will; to you it doth belong

Yourself to pardon of self-doing crime.

I am to wait, though waiting so be hell;

Not blame your pleasure, be it ill or well.

Sonnet 58, William Shakespeare